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Tone Poem Category (or Tone Poem form)
Return to list of categories Tone Poem

A Tone Poem is an orchestral or solo work, in which the composer attempts to paint an impression of some scene or mood. Other terms for the same thing include Descriptive Music,  Programme Music,  or sometimes Symphonic Poem. The opposite term is  Abstract Music,  or  Absolute Music.

The rhythm may be slow and the dynamics quiet, but the music tuneful in a major key, to give the impression of happy serenity experienced in the countryside. It may be fast, loud and furious, to suggest battles or storms. It may be quiet, slow but in a minor key to indicate sadness or grief. It may be at a moderate tempo, fairly loud, but stately, with themes played on the trumpet, to suggest a military triumph. The resources of the full symphony orchestra give the composer a powerful set of paint-brushes with which to paint his tone-picture.

A Baroque work which is effectively a Tone Poem, is the Four Seasons, by Vivaldi. A work from the classical period is Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony no 6 in F, although most people would agree that Beethoven became the first Romantic composer when he wrote this symphony. The composers labelled Impressionists, such as Debussy and Delius, were especially famous for writing Tone Poems.

Examples of Tone Poems include Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherezade, Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun,  Dukas's  Sorceroer's Apprentice, and Richard Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel.

Tunes belonging to the Tone Poem category. Audio is available for 39 tunes for this category.
No.Name of WorkComposerEnsemblePeriod
1 Also Sprach Zarathustra - intro themeStrauss-RichardOrchestraRomantic
2 An American in Paris - 3rd theme (Blues)GershwinOrchestraPopular Modern
3 BoleroRavelOrchestraModern (Serious)
4 Capriccio Espagnol Op 34Rimsky-KorsakovOrchestraRomantic
5 Capriccio Italien Op 45TchaikovskyOrchestraRomantic
6 Danse MacabreSaint-SaensOrchestraRomantic
7 Don Juan Op 20Strauss-RichardOrchestraRomantic
8 Falstaff. Symphonic Study, Op 68ElgarOrchestraRomantic
9 Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas TallisVaughan-WilliamsOrchestraModern (Serious)
10 Fantasia on GreensleevesVaughan-WilliamsOrchestraModern (Serious)
11 Finlandia Op 26 No.7SibeliusOrchestraRomantic
12 Floating - for piano and stringsGomersallOrchestraModern (Serious)
13 Fountains of Rome - the Fountain of Valle Giulia at DawnRespighiOrchestraImpressionist
14 In a Persian MarketKetèlbeyOrchestraRomantic
15 In a Summer garden, 1st theme BDeliusOrchestraImpressionist
16 Irish Rhapsody No.1StanfordOrchestraRomantic
17 La Calinda from KoangaDeliusOrchestraImpressionist
18 L'Après-midi d'une FauneDebussyOrchestraImpressionist
19 Mysteria - Tone Picture for Orchestra.GomersallOrchestraModern (Serious)
20 Night on Bare MountainMussorgskyOrchestraRomantic
21 On the Steppes of Central AsiaBorodinOrchestraRomantic
22 Pavane in F# Minor for orchestra Op 50FauréOrchestraRomantic
23 Pictures at an ExhibitionMussorgskyOrchestraRomantic
24 Pines of RomeRespighiOrchestraImpressionist
25 Polovtsian Dances from Prince IgorBorodinOrchestraRomantic
26 Sorcerer's Apprentice ( L'Apprenti Sorcier)DukasOrchestraImpressionist
27 Swan of TuolenaSibeliusOrchestraRomantic
28 The Blackbird (Tone Poem)GomersallOther EnsemblesModern (Serious)
29 The Lark AscendingVaughan-WilliamsOrchestraModern (Serious)
30 Till Eulenspiegels Lustige StreicheStrauss-RichardOrchestraRomantic
31 To Spring - from Lyric Pieces Op 43 No.6GriegSoloRomantic
32 Valse Triste from Kuolema Op 44SibeliusOrchestraRomantic
33 Vlatava from Ma VlastSmetanaOrchestraRomantic
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