Beethoven Symphony No. 9
(the following text is taken from the video listening guide above)
A symphony is an orchestral piece of music normally in 4 separate sections, called movements. It’s a bit like going for a four course meal but in the case of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, it’s a feast. I’m going to pick out some of my favourite parts of the piece for you, starting with the first movement.
Our first course or movement uses this rhythm (right) repeatedly throughout.
I think Beethoven does this to bring a sense of drama and tension so that the listener wonders “what’s going to happen? Where’s this piece of music going to go?”
When listening to the first movement see if you can hear how many times Beethoven uses this rhythm, not only in the melody but also in the accompanying parts.
In the second movement Beethoven also uses rhythm as a dominant force.
This time Beethoven also attaches it to a melody and uses it in the style of a fugue. This means he begins the theme in of the orchestral sections and once it’s running he begins exactly the same thing in another section.
See if you can hear, as it enters each section.
The third movement is slow, which is a welcome change after the heavy first movement and the quick second movement. I think it’s beautifully romantic and one favourite bit of mine is in bar 25. The time changes to 3 time and the strings enter with a beautiful lilting melody.
In the monumental 4th movement Beethoven does something never done before in an symphonic work – not only does he have full orchestra but also adds 4 solo singers and a full choir – the effect is magnificent.
Beethoven used one of his favourite poems by Schiller for the text of the vocal parts. The poem “To Joy” celebrates the idea of brotherhood and equality amongst men. The resulting “Ode to Joy is one of the most famous pieces of the classical music in the repertoire and simply exhilarating to experience in the concert hall.
My absolute favourite part in the fourth movement is when the orchestra is going at full tilt, but not only that - so are the choir and solo singers.
These examples are just my choice – I’m sure you’ll develop your own - but I hope you enjoy listening to Beethoven’s 9th symphony.
- Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini
- Bartók Concerto For Orchestra
- Bartók The Miraculous Mandarin
- Beethoven Egmont
- Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5
- Beethoven Symphony No. 9
- Berg 3 Pieces, Op. 6
- Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique
- Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2
- Britten In Memoriam Dennis Brain
- Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1
- Bruckner Symphony No. 4
- Debussy Images
- Debussy Jeux
- Debussy La Mer
- Mahler Symphony No. 6
- Mahler Symphony No. 7
- Mahler Symphony No. 9
- Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
- Messiaen Turangalîla-symphonie
- Mozart Horn Concerto No. 4
- Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27
- Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2
- Rachmaninov Piano Concerto 3
- Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 4
- Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2
- Ravel La Valse
- Ravel Piano Concerto in D
- Ravel Piano Concerto in G Major
- Schumann Symphony No. 1
- Schoenberg 5 Pieces
- Schoenberg Gurrelieder
- Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht
- Sibelius Karelia Suite
- Sibelius Symphony No. 2
- Strauss Don Juan
- Strauss Horn Concerto No.1
- Stravinsky The Firebird Suite
- Stravinsky Rite of Spring
- Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4
- Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6
- Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D
- Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony
- Vaughan Williams London Symphony
- Vaughan Williams The Pilgrim's Progress