Just what we need: a Covid symphony

Just what we need: a Covid symphony


norman lebrecht

June 16, 2020

Leif Segerstam, the prolific Finn, has delivered his symphony no 339, ‘Coronavirus chaoticlies in prisonic moods.’

Published here.



  • PHF says:

    A four page score of pure by hand rubbish.

  • fflambeau says:

    Leif is an amazing man and conductor. Hats off to him.

  • fflambeau says:

    EAT your heart out, Haydn lovers. #339!

  • Peter San Diego says:

    I wonder: did he compose it for a covid-era sized and distanced orchestra?

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Segerstam makes Haydn look like Duparc.
    One might think he’s a bit obsessive.
    Good conductor, though….

    • fflambeau says:

      He’s more than a “good” conductor, but I take your point. Excellent with Sibelius, the Russians etc.

  • Gustavo says:

    Wonder whether it is Programmmusik?

  • Ben G. says:

    I pity the editor who will have to decifer the handwritten score, and extract each individual part.

    By the time he or she finishes, another pandemic will probably invade us all again !

    Check it out here:


  • Gustavo says:

    How will Leif go on after lockdown?

  • dorset dick says:

    any chance of a cycle of all his symphonies ?

    • Arthur says:


      No chance, and no need.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      Imagine the music reviewer forced to listen to 339 symphonies (and counting) by any one composer. Sounds like a punishment that would fit right into Dante’s Inferno…

      • John Borstlap says:

        My fly on the wall informs me that it is not Segerstam that’s played in hell, but Xenakis and Neuwirth.

        Purgatorio is furnished with little cubicles, where the souls are forced to listen to Boulez and Pintscher, after which they can confess their sins and either go up or go down, according to life statistics.

  • The View from America says:

    Great, now we have a symphony to go along with this concerto: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeSnfWzNe-Y

  • Dennis says:

    Are any of his symphonies any good, or is his work just a mechanistic “compose-by-numbers” (like those old Paint-by-Numbers watercolor kits they used to sell) type of thing designed to make headlines get him into record books, but without any real artistic inspiration or merit?

  • Edgar Self says:

    ouldn’t we just re-tool one of Hovhaness’s? Say, St. Helens or An Irruption for all Seasons”? Well, Eruption, then. Well, now, there, then. So far Gustavo gets my vote for “His time will come.” Go, Gus! Both of you. Just get out!

    What I noticed about Segerstam when he conducted here is how much he looks like Brahms from behind, but everyone knows the best conductor from behind is Salonen.

    • Gustavo says:

      He may look like Brahms but he is the only living composer who understands Rott’s “Sehr langsam – Belebt”.


      And he is the only living conductor who knows how it feels to be a disregarded composer.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      I love your comments, Edgar! (Although I am a big fan of Hovhaness and like his works more than I do Segerstam’s.)
      I can’t wait for the SF Symphony to start concertizing so’s I can check out Esa-Pekka’s behind. On your recommendation, of course….