Bax's 'Sea Symphony'

Aidan Thomson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Bax's Fourth is the only one of his symphonies that alludes explicitly to an extramusical stimulus: 'a rough sea at flood-tide on a sunny day'. This essay contextualizes Bax's frequent use of sea imagery throughout his oeuvre, noting in particular the peripherality of the composer's observation of the sea from the liminal position of the shore. It then considers how the idea of the sea in the Fourth Symphony is related to several musical features (motivic coherence, thematic expansion, formal anomalies), and how the sea is central to the underlying conflict in the work between nature and humanity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Sea in the British Musical Imagination
EditorsEric Saylor, Christopher M. Scheer
PublisherBoydell and Brewer
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9781783270620
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2015

Publication series

NameMusic in Britain, 1600-2000
PublisherBoydell and Brewer


  • Symphonic music, analysis, hermeneutics, Bax, music and nature


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