Rootham: Symphony No 2 in D Major


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Opus 97
Symphony No 2

Written in 1936-38 by Cyril Bradley Rootham (CBR), this work was written while the composer was terminally ill.

The work closes with the women's chorus singing words from Revelation chapter 21:

"... there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away..."

History of this work

Opus 97 "Symphony No 2 in D Major" was composed in 1936-38, when the composer was already ill. This symphony could so easily have been abandoned.

Rootham completed the symphony in outline (short form score), and this holograph manuscript is in the Library of St John's College, Cambridge. Orchestration then proceeded, but required the loyal efforts of Patrick Hadley and others taking dictation at CBR's bedside. The orchestration of the first two movements was virtually completed when Rootham died in March 1938.

At the composer's request, it was Hadley who completed the orchestration of the last movement. The friendship and trust between these two men is evident in the affectionate obituary written by Hadley, which you can read in this extract from the R.C.M. Magazine.

The first broadcast and recording occurred in 1939, when Sir Adrian Boult conducted the work.


CBR memorial plaque in SJC Chapel

Memorial to Cyril Rootham
Chapel of St John's College, Cambridge

Publication status

CBR's Second Symphony has never yet been published. But the work was typeset in 2017 by Ian Denley, and we are planning its publication for 2018.


By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John's College, Cambridge
We are very grateful to St John's College for allowing us to consult the original manuscript, thus enabling us to produce this authentic and scholarly edition.

This performance

This recording features the Scottish Philharmonic Singers and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Vernon Handley. It was broadcast on Radio 3 on 28 January 1984 and runs for about 38 minutes.