sym·​pho·​nism ˈsim(p)-fə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce symphonism (audio)
: musical composition in a symphonic style
especially : musical composition of complexity and seriousness of purpose regarded as appropriate to the symphony
… their suspicion of the abstract symphonic genre was deeply rooted enough to provoke calls for a new kind of proletarian symphonism based on mass song. Pauline Fairclough, A Soviet Credo, 2006
: the writing of symphonies
So Debussy and Satie began to seek a way out of the hulking fortresses of Beethovenian symphonism and Wagnerian opera.Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise, 2007

Word History


symphony + -ism, after Russian simfonizm

Note: The word simfonizm as a musicological term in this sense was introduced by the Russian composer and critic Boris Vladimirovič Asaf'ev (1884-1949; pseudonym, "Igor' Glebov") in an article "Puti v buduščee" ("Paths to the future"), Melos, vypusk 2, St. Petersburg, 1918.

First Known Use

1916, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of symphonism was in 1916

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Dictionary Entries Near symphonism

Cite this Entry

“Symphonism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

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