Blues Symphony

Blues Symphony

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This recording is only available as an MP3 or hi-res WAV digital download.

Access the digital booklet and liner notes.



The blues is one of America’s greatest cultural inventions—and now, it provides the backbone for one of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Wynton Marsalis’s most innovative and colossal works. In the hands of the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of celebrated conductor Cristian Măcelaru, Blues Symphony (Marsalis’s second symphony) takes the 12-bar blues and explodes it into a lyrical, kaleidoscopic history of American music.

The symphony’s movements are each infused with different influences—a ragtime stomp here, a habanera rhythm there—and, collectively, they take listeners on a sonic journey through America’s revolutionary era, the early beginnings of jazz in New Orleans, and even a big city soundscape that serves as a nod to the Great Migration. This 2019 performance, recorded live in Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, builds upon the legacies of Scott Joplin, James P. Johnson, George Gershwin, and other American masters, demonstrating the genius and breadth of Marsalis’s imagination. 

“The blues helps you remember back before the troubles on hand and in mind,” says Marsalis, “and they carry you on the wings of angels to a timeless higher ground.” With the exquisite palette provided by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Blues Symphony is a triumphant ode to the power of the blues and the scope of America’s musical heritage.

Track Listing

1. Movement I: Born in Hope
2. Movement II: Swimming in Sorrow
3. Movement III: Reconstruction Rag
4. Movement IV: Southwestern Shakedown
5. Movement V: Big City Breaks
6. Movement VI: Danzón y Mambo, Choro y Samba
7. Movement VII: Dialog in Democracy


The Philadelphia Orchestra, 2019-2020 Season

Conducted by Cristian Măcelaru