As with all enormously prolific composers, Martinu’s works are uneven in quality; but his symphonies are generally held among
the outstanding 20th-century examples of the genre.
All six were written in the USA, the first five in consecutive years from 1942 – the shadow of war can be heard in several march-like movements – but they frequently reveal the composer’s Czech origins, particularly in the stirring slow movements which become darker and more probing as the cycle progresses.
The textures and rhythms have a percussive energy that derives both from his formative years of study in Paris in the 1920s and
from the prominent use of a piano within the orchestra.