6.23.2007



Ludwig van Beethoven, 1808.
Symphony No. 5 In C Minor, Op. 67: I - Allegro con brio.



Perhaps the most recognizable of all classical music compositions, the opening movement of Beethoven's 5th symphony is a passionate and powerful display. The opening 4 notes sound the beginning of something truly special. Some scholars liken the opening notes to the sound of fate knocking on a door. This concept seems to be validated by the writing of Beethoven at the time. In a letter to a friend he wrote that he intends to "seize Fate by the throat; it shall not bend or crush me completely". The Fifth Symphony was written while Beethoven was coming to terms with his increasing deafness and the challenges that it posed upon his life and career. The opening movement in a way can be seen as fate challenging again and again, coming back in many variations, relentlessly. This is realized by the way that the opening theme is revisited regularly forming the melodic bulk of the movement. Three quarters through the movement the opening theme is completely revisited. While it is unclear whether this theme is the true meaning of Beethoven's music, it certainly fits given the facts of his life at the time and his willingness to make statements.

Selected recordings recommended for purchasing:
Berlin Philharmonic (conducted by Karajan, complete 9 symphony cycle) version available here.
Vienna Philharmonic (conducted by Bernstein) version available here.
Vienna Philharmonic (conducted by Kleiber) version available here.


Photograph: Patrick Jablonski // Burned Forest

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