The twelve-tone method and the classical tradition in Roger Session's Symphony No. 3
Master of Music
Premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra on December 6, 1957, Sessions' Third Symphony was the first of his orchestral works to employ twelve-tone procedures. But while expressing the harmonic and melodic vocabulary of a twentieth-century non-tonal composer, Sessions also demonstrates an allegiance to classical tradition by employing classical forms and devices. The first and last movements approach a classic sonata form, the second movement is akin to a minuet or scherzo and trio, while the third consists of a theme and two variations. By integrating twelve-tone principles with traditional procedures, Sessions created a work that not only penetrated the future (of his time) but also paid homage to the past.