The Fifth Symphony composed by Ludwig van Beethoven

The Symphony No. 5 in C minor was composed by Ludwig van Beethoven. He was a German composer and pianist. Beethoven one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 piano concertos, 1 violin concerto, 32 piano sonatas, 16 string quartets, his great Mass the Missa solemnis, and one opera, Fidelio. He was born in Bonn. Beethoven displayed his musical talents at an early age and was taught by his father Johann van Beethoven and by composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe. At the age of 21 he moved to Vienna, where he began studying composition with Joseph Haydn and gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. He lived in Vienna until his death. By his late 20s his hearing began to deteriorate, and by the last decade of his life he was almost completely deaf. In 1811 he gave up conducting and performing in public but continued to compose.

The Fifth Symphony had a long development process, as Beethoven worked out the musical ideas for the work. The first “sketches” date from 1804 following the completion of the Third Symphony. However, Beethoven repeatedly interrupted his work on the Fifth to prepare other compositions, including the first version of Fidelio, the Appassionata piano sonata, the three Razumovsky string quartets, the Violin Concerto, the Fourth Piano Concerto, the Fourth Symphony, and the Mass in C. The final preparation of the Fifth Symphony, which took place in 1807–1808, was carried out in parallel with the Sixth Symphony, which premiered at the same concert. Beethoven was in his mid-thirties during this time. His personal life was troubled by increasing deafness. In the world at large, the period was marked by the Napoleonic Wars, political turmoil in Austria, and the occupation of Vienna by Napoleon’s troops in 1805. The symphony was written at his lodgings at the Pasqualati House in Vienna. The final movement quotes from a revolutionary song by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle. The Fifth Symphony was premiered on 22 December 1808 at a mammoth concert at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna consisting entirely of Beethoven premieres, and directed by Beethoven himself on the conductor’s podium. The concert lasted for more than four hours. The two symphonies appeared on the programme in reverse order the Sixth was played first, and the Fifth appeared in the second half. Beethoven dedicated the Fifth Symphony to two of his patrons, Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz and Count Razumovsky. The dedication appeared in the first printed edition of April 1809.

The symphony consists of four movements. The first movement is Allegro con brio, this movement opens with the four-note motif that the most famous motifs in Western music. There is considerable debate among conductors as to the manner of playing the four opening bars. Next movement is the the second movement that call Andante con moto. This movement is in A? major, the subdominant key of C minor’s relative key, is a lyrical work in double variation form, which means that two themes are presented and varied in alternation. Following the variations there is a long coda. The third movement is a Scherzo Allegro, consisting of a scherzo and trio. It follows the traditional mold of Classical-era symphonic third movements, containing in sequence the main scherzo, a contrasting trio section, a return of the scherzo, and a coda. The fourth movement is Allegro. This movement begins without pause from the transition. The music resounds in C major, an unusual choice by the composer as a symphony that begins in C minor is expected to finish in that key.

The first movement is like the first act of a great drama. It is cast in sonata form, but one with a large measure of tension and irregularity. This movement is Allegro con brio, 2/4 meter. Opening motive primary importance, first theme based on overlapping presentations of opening motive, second theme more lyrical, closing theme begins conjunct, the turns disjunct. The opening motive from bar 1 to bar 5 presented by all the strings and clarinets in unison and repeated one step lower. The first theme grows from overlapping presentations of the motive by the second violins, violas, and first violins in turn. This opening section ends with a strong cadence on the dominant and general pause. The second theme from bar 59 to 63 begins with a gentle, lyrical phrase, accompanied by the motive in the low strings. The phrase is played in turn by violins, clarinet and flute with violin after which it is extended by a rising sequence in the violins. At same time the rhythm of the basic motive continues to assert itself in the lower strings, as a climax in pitch and dynamics is reached. For the closing themes, from bar 95 to 100, the rhythm of the basic motive returns and the exposition ends with a feeling of great power and a complete pause.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *