A symphony for Prince Philip

A symphony for Prince Philip


norman lebrecht

April 21, 2021

Barely had we reported the rapid response of Paul Hindemith to the death of King George V than a Finnish composer rushed to put notes on paper.

Leif Segerstam has dedicated his latest symphony to the memory of Prince Philip, ‘saluting  a royal soul’.

It’s for large orchestra and lasts 14 minutes.

This is Segerstam’s 344th symphony.





  • Gustavo says:

    Maybe he was inspired by the socially spaced Elgar, Parry and Britten?

  • fflambeau says:

    Leif Segerstam is a magnificent conductor; I know nothing about his symphony.

  • Herbie G says:

    I daren’t listen to it in case I like it; I’d then have to order the complete symphonies on Brilliant Classics – a snip at £700.00 – and when it gets delivered to my doorstep (following social distancing regulations) I’d get a hernia trying to lift it into my house.

    Let’s face it – he probably achieved the Olympic gold for symphonic production years ago, making Havergal Brian and Miaskovsky non-starters and Hovhaness a mere parvenu. I guess Molter gets silver and Haydn bronze.

    Isn’t it time to Segerstam to declare and then enjoy a fruitful retirement – or start on piano concertos or string quartets?

    • Jean says:

      Actually, he has 30 string quartets and a dozen of piano concertos already (as well as a number of other concertos).

    • Gustavo says:

      Leif Segerstam still needs to record Wagner’s complete Ring before he follows Prince Philip!


      • Genius Repairman says:

        Wagner only wrote one Ring Cycle. I bet Segerstam has written ar least twelve complete cycles by now!

    • John Borstlap says:

      What most people don’t know is that Segerstam never writes his own symphonies – he would not have the time for it. They are produced by a non-stop working angry algorhythmic computer program, as can clearly be heard:


      The scores are sent directly to his publisher where a special department of employees work day & night to produce the separate orchestral parts to keep-up with the production. There is a special building in the woods to store the ever-growing pile of scores and parts, waiting for the musical world to be overflown by a new repertoire which will replace all those outdated, naive symphonies of old.

      The Philip symphony has been inspired by the algorhythm’s anti-monarchist convictions, since in 2008 the prince had made some sneering remarks about type-set scores which he found sterile and impersonal.

  • Nick Schleppend says:

    That’s good. I like his even numbered symphonies.

  • Old Bob says:

    Has anyone looked at the score? Would be interested to know what people think!

    • John Borstlap says:

      There is a story that Queen Elisabeth had a look at the score and felt rather offended by a chord on page 34.

  • Old Bob says:

    I know what I think…!

  • fflambeau says:

    His Sibelius is magnificent.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      . . . Yes, but his own compositions are an entirely different matter. Let’s just say they’re not for the faint of heart.

  • fflambeau says:

    Looks more like Santa Claus than Santa Claus. And can conduct, too!

    • John Borstlap says:

      What most people don’t know is that Mr Segerstam IS Santa, it’s his every winter freelance job, to keep scandinavian depression at bay. The carriage is provided by NASA.

  • Eric says:

    A copyist’s dream!

  • leogrinhauz says:

    Any other news from the asylum?

    • John Borstlap says:

      Yes: it’s becoming even more crowded than before. In Schoenberg’s time it was only him, but it’s infectious.

  • Gustavo says:

    He’s Royal-washing his output.

  • Rachelle Goldberg says:

    He’s also a violinist!!!

  • Bill Ecker says:

    Not talking quality, but Segerstam makes Myaskovsky look meager in his output.

  • Wise Guy says:

    He must really have put a lot of thought in to all 344 symphonies.