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Symphonic poem

A symphonic poem or tone poem is an orchestral piece of music in which a some sort of extra-musical programme provides a narrative or illustrative basis. This prgramme could come from a poem, a novel, a painting or some other source. Music based on extra-musical sources is often known as programme music[?], while music which has no other associations is known as abstract music[?].

Franz Liszt and Richard Strauss both wrote well known symphonic poems. Strauss wrote Don Juan,Til Eulenspiegel, Don Quixote to name three. Other composers of tone poems are Dvorak, with pieces such as The Golden Spinning Wheel, and The Wood Dove, and Bax with Tintagel, and The Garden of Fand.

The name tone poem appears to apply to certain pieces or types of piece only, For example, Mendelssohn's Fingals Cave (considered to be an overture), and Schoenberg's Verklaerte Nacht are clearly based on extra musical themes, and are not normally considered to be tone poems (symphonic poems). The classification is thus partly subjective, and reflects to some extent the composer's view. In the case of the Schoenberg piece, it was originally written for a string sextet, which is one reason why it would not be classified as a symphonic poem, but the same does not apply to the Mendelssohn piece.

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