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THE IMPORTANCE OF BEETHOVEN'S SYMPHONIES

We see both CLASSICAL and ROMANTIC elements in Beethoven's music

Classical = strong sense of musical structure and form; composers wanted to communicate clearly to their audience; highly social music, a shared experience

Romantic = all about the individual; music offers solitary contemplation; originality, individual expression, genius; every new work of art has a new, unique meaning; music embodying feeling

Many of Beethoven's works are based on Classical principles, but stretched to the utmost limit

- looking forward to the nineteenth century

Beethoven was a major influence on almost every nineteenth-century composer that followed him

The Sonata Principle

A way in which Classical composers (e.g. Mozart and Haydn) constructed their works - it created a sense of direction and shape to their works. It was used in piano sonatas, symphonies and chamber works.

EXPOSITION: the musical ideas (themes or melodies) are "exposed", i.e. introduced / shown. Usually made up of 2 contrasting themes called subjects (i.e. first subject, second subject). DEVELOPMENT: the music "develops" these musical ideas by exploring a range of keys, both major and minor RECAPITULATION: the musical ideas first heard in the exposition are restated, but making sure the piece overall ends in the home key

MOZART renowned for writing beautiful, flowing tunes BEETHOVEN builds his movements on smaller fragments

The Fifth Symphony

'Da-da-da-dum' theme

- three short repeated notes then one longer note at a lower pitch

- Beethoven rhythmical idea

builds an entire movement (lasting about 10 mins) on this one

Second subject is a contrasting melodic theme

- but Beethoven still has the 'da-da-da-dum' theme lurking in the background

In the development section Beethoven develops the potential of this motive / theme

- he keeps the same rhythm but changes the melodic shape

The development of such a small theme / motive became a guiding principle

- later Romantic composers liked the way one single theme could become the source for a huge exploration of different thematic developments - METAPHORS OF GROWTH (the motive is the seed, and the movement grows organically into flower)

The Sixth Symphony

One of the earliest nineteenth-century examples of programme music (you should know all about this from your recent assignment)

- contains 5 movements (symphonies at this time usually only had 4 movements)

Programme music = instrumental music that tells a story, represents a real or fictional character, depicts a scene; often composers would provide some sort of written description to accompany the music

'Recollections of Country Life'

I. Pleasant, cheerful feelings aroused on approaching the countryside II. Scene by the Brook III. The Peasants' Merrymaking IV. The Storm V. Shepherd's Song, Grateful thanks to the Almighty after the Storm

Just like the 5th Symphony, Beethoven often repeats and develops short themes /

motives e.g. in the first movement one little 5-note idea gets repeated many, many times until we are itching for it to change

The 6th Symphony was an important influence on later writers of programme music such

as: Liszt and Dvorak ('Tone Poems' - symphonic works describing scenes or paintings)

Mahler and Bruckner (both wrote huge programmatic symphonies)

The Ninth Symphony

Relies on the overall structures of the Classical tradition, but again stretched to their absolute limits

The whole symphony lasts for other an hour this had never been done before

The first symphony to incorporate singers into a symphony (these appear in the final movement)

The 9th Symphony was the first sign of the symphonic 'epic masterpiece. way for:

- composers to wrote much longer symphonies (e.g. most of Mahler and Bruckner's symphonies last for over an hour)

It paved the

- Haydn, for instance, wrote 106 symphonies, but on a much smaller scale. Following

Beethoven it became less feasible to write lots of them, so most nineteenth-century composers wrote less than ten symphonies in their respective lifetimes (e.g. Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann).

The 9th Symphony is innovative in the way Beethoven unifies the work:

- The 'Ode to Joy' theme is included in all 4 movements (albeit it often in slightly disguised form)

- The 4th movement contains snippets of music from each of the previous three

movements

- This is known as CYCLIC FORM (where ideas that you heard earlier in the piece

come back in the final movement)

The THEMATIC UNITY seen in Beethoven's 9th Symphony was a major influence on later composers, for example:

Idée Fixe: a motive that keeps coming back in different movements of a work, used by Berlioz Thematic metamorphosis: where a theme is transformed and takes on a new character, used by Richard Strauss Leitmotif: a musical idea used to represent a certain character or dramatic theme is brought back at different times, as seen in Wagner's operas

It is also worth noting that Beethoven used a much larger orchestra than his predecessors in his symphonic writing, and this would go on to influence later composers