This is a question which originated over a short discussion of Mahler.
My friend noted that while he's heard many good performances of Mahler
1, he's heard comparatively few good Mahler 9 performances, and he
wondered why. I suggested that the breadth, scope, and complexity of
the Mahler 9 was much greater than that of the Mahler 1, but he didn't
completely buy into that argument, saying that he had heard elements of
the Mahler 1 in the No.9. I then pushed forward and said yes, this must
be the case, which is why we obviously don't have many 9th symphonies
since Beethoven's. He then argued that he could think of as many Romantic
composers who wrote 9 symphonies as who didn't:
So here is the question: How many Romantic composers wrote at least two
(I chose two as the lower end number, because I suppose anyone can write
at least one symphony in his/her life) but fewer than 9 symphonies? I've
always imagined that during the mid to late-19th century there were a
slew (Tens? Hundreds?:) of symphonic composers who tried to follow in
Beethoven's footsteps, and that only a precious few and great escaped
obscurity. Now I'm beginning to wonder if that was really the case.
Offhand I can think of three composers who wrote fewer than 9 symphonies--
Berlioz, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky-- but who else is there?