Johan Svendsen (1840–1911) was probably the most important contributor to a symphonic tradition in Norway in the second half of the 19th century. His works, including two notable symphonies, were performed regularly during his lifetime. Several sources have claimed that Svendsen worked on a third symphony, but it may seem that he was un-able to complete the work as his compositional activity waned in the 1880s. However, a famous anecdote would have it that his wife, in a fit of jealousy, burned the completed manuscript.

In 2007, conductor Bjarte Engeset identified sketches for a cyclic symphonic work by Svendsen. I have elaborated and arranged parts of the material for a celebratory concert marking the centenary of Svendsen’s death.

A performable version, so to speak, of the sketches, to my mind throws new light not only on an unfinished or lost symphony but may also be a valuable contribution to understanding Svendsen’s artistic development, as this material demonstrates a more dramatic musical language than most of his earlier works.

Keywords: Johan Svendsen, Third Symphony, reconstruction