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Cesar Franck finished his Symphony in D minor in 1888. It is usually considered his only mature symphony, and it took two years to reach its final form, being premired at the Paris Conservatory in 1889. It was dedicated to Franck's pupil, Henri Duparc. The fact that he chose to write a symphony was an unusual fact, considering that the form had gone out of use in France a long time ago. A recent wave of symphonic-like compositions (by Charles Valentin Alkan, Saint Saens, and Franck himself) had created an renowed interest in the form, though it was far from being popular, as it was considered a mainstay of the German musical culture. Franck, as the rest of his contemporary composers, differentiatied from the German style resorting to the cyclic structure. However, he was also far from the typical French resources, and his Symphony in D minor bears clear Wagnerian and Lisztian influences. In summation, in can be seen as the union of both traditions, and maybe it was this fact that accounted for its very poor reception. The political sphere also influenced the reception of the work: in accepting German influences, Franck and other composers (such as D'Indy) created a rift inside the National Music Society, which was presided by Saint-Saëns and intended to uphold French musical values as opposed to German ones (mostly as a result of the Franco-Prussian war). The controversy made it very hard for Franck to have his work played, and he ended resorting to the conservatory orchestra, which was obliged to play faculty works. Even then, rehearsals were desultory and reaction negative. The work was, however, very well received in places where this controversy had no wight, such as the United States.
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