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Beethoven. 3. And I'm ranking the two under the number three of the birth of look big by fate opening seventy seven a one of a series of programs produced by the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service revealing the political social musical climate that you're hearing. Like my. Music.
They talk when the composer is probably known to more people through the medium of his symphonies than in any other way except possibly the piano sonata. This. Is somebody number 5 in C Minor has been called by many musicologists the best known somebody in the entire orchestral repertoire. Ronald Burnside a member of the faculty of the University of Illinois School of Music and a guest lecturer in music at the University of Michigan School of Music for the 1969 70 school year is our host today Mr. Burnside's topic is Beethoven. His symphonies.
You've been listening to the opening measures of the Symphony Number five in C Minor by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is perhaps Beethoven's best known composition and it may well be the best known symphonic movement in the entire literature of western music. The symphony is a genre to which Beethoven addressed himself throughout most of his creative life. Work on the nine symphonies was spread out over the years from about 70 99 to about 18 24 and if we accept the by now rather traditional categorize ation of the Beethoven repertory into three style periods we discover that the first two symphonies were written during the first styled period. That is roughly from the years 1793 to about 18 to the next six symphonies were composed during the second styled period that is a period covering the years from about 18 0 0 3 to about eight hundred fourteen and the Ninth Symphony which have bears the date eight hundred twenty four was composed during the
third and last period of Beethoven's creativity. Let's the symphonies provide us with the opportunity to observe the evolution of Beethoven's musical style and perhaps before examining the symphonies or some of them we ought first to set the record straight on the symphonic literature of Beethoven itself. We'll be discussing today only the symphonies. This is not the only orchestral music that Beethoven wrote but that today will deal just with the symphonies the first symphony presumably was written in the years 1799 18:00. It is Opus 21 in C major. It is a four movement symphony with slow introduction a Symphony Number 2 Opus 36 in D major dates from the year 18 ode to. Again it is a four movement symphony with slow introduction notably the third movement is a true scared so. The third symphony Opus 55 in E-flat major dates from the year 18 0 3. The symphony bears the subtitle heroic or heroic symphony.
Again it is a day for movement symphony Symphony number for Opus 60 in B-flat major dates from the year 18 0 6. Once more a four movement symphony the Fifth Symphony Opus 67 is Beethoven's First Symphony in a minor key. It is in C minor. You heard the opening bars of it a moment ago. Again a four movement symphony. I should remind you however that the designation of four movements for any of the Beethoven symphonies is a little misleading as it frequently happens in the Beethoven symphonic literature or that one movement turns out to be more than one movement under one heading. The Sixth Symphony subtitled The Pastoral Symphony Opus sixty eight in F Major is a five movement symphony and each of the movements bear subtitles and we'll return to those subtitles later on. Symphony Number 7 Opus 92 in a major again a four movement symphony with slow introduction
the Eighth Symphony Opus 93 an F Major for movement symphony in some respects Beethoven's most old fashioned symphony. We'll return to that symphony later on as will the last symphonies the Ninth Symphony sometimes called the Choral Symphony. His opus 125 in D minor here the designation of four movements is really very misleading those of you who know the Ninth Symphony recognize that the last movement consists of many multiple parts. Beethoven is a figure who is difficult to categorize aesthetically from a certain perspective he seems to be the grand Coleman nation of 18th century classical style an idea in music from another point of view he seems to be the first and certainly one of the most eloquent spokesmen of German Romanticism in music. It seems everyone wanted to claim Beethoven as musical dash spiritual forefather and most of those who did so in the 19th century
made their claims on the basis of what they saw as a rapport between their own synth symphonic works and those of Beethoven. Some of the later 900 century symphony ist's in whom the 18th century symphonic ideal was at least to some extent evident. Men such as Brahms and sandstone viewed their work as in some respects a continuation of the Beethoven Ian ideal. On the other hand the early German Romantic philosophers and like Hoffman John Paul know volas these men saw in Beethoven's instrumental works a profound romanticism. Hoffman for example looked upon instrumental music as the truly perhaps the only expression of romanticism and the supreme comprise composer of this romantic music was in his view Beethoven. Several of the early romantic composers looked upon their works as the continuation of Beethoven's work through his quote unquote
symphonic music dramas. Richard Wagner saw himself as the logical successor to the mantle of Beethoven. The writers of program symphonies and symphonic poems men like Billy O's and Liszt found in Beethoven the precedent for some of their own practices in the symphonic field. Beethoven is those of you would not only as the worthy successor to the Viennese classical symphony symphonic ideal but also as the central figure in the development of program music and other forms of extra musical thinking in the one thousand nine hundred three. Felix Mendelssohn whom Albert Einstein with good reason calls quote the romantic classicist unquote saw himself as a romantic in part he saw himself in this light because he sensed a relationship between certain attitudes of Beethoven and certain attitudes of his own. In an interview with Mendelssohn in July of 1830
one his interviewer asked Mandelson some questions about his own procedures in writing program music or in writing music of any kind. Mendelssohn said quote What has Beethoven done in his overtures. He has painted the content of his pieces in tone pictures. I have done the same. His interviewer then said. You ascribe then the originality of the invention to the definite subject you had in mind and with an exclamation point Mendelssohn said. Certainly. Robert Schumann in some ways the most romantic of all the 19th century composers did nevertheless cherish the 18th century symphonic ideal his symphonies do display a degree and quality of the developmental process far in excess of his romantic contemporaries. Schumann found in Beethoven both romanticism and the voice of a beautiful and lost symphonic ideal. Now in the light of all this I propose that we
examine in the time we have some of the Beethoven symphonic repertory in an effort to discover if we can how the symphony changed in the hands of Beethoven and to do this we must first recognize what the eighteenth century symphony was what the symphony was. As Beethoven inherited it. The prototype 18th century Symphony which Beethoven inherited was a four movement composition for orchestra and the sequence of movements was usually a fast movement followed by a slow movement followed by a dance movement almost invariably a minuet and finally a fourth fast movement. The first movement of this piece this kind of a piece and was frequently preceded by a slow introduction and many of the Beethoven symphonies appear to do just that be a four movement piece with slow introduction. The standard forces of this 18th century orchestra were usually pairs of flutes
oboes bassoons and later in the century clarinets as well. Sometimes a quartet of horns a trumpet timpani and the predominant voice of the orchestra of the string section consisting of first and second violins violas cello double bass and although an anachronism even in the late 18th century the harpsichord was frequently a member of the orchestra. It was however as I say an anachronism at this time. Such a symphony it was less concerned with a unification growing out of thematic or rhythmic interconnections between the four movements. Then it was with a kind of aesthetic balance which developed out of the grouping together of four movements distinct in thematic materials speed and general mood. In passing we should note that typically the eighteenth century symphony particularly the late 18th century symphony placed upon the early movements the
bulk of the musical weight and it is the subject of musical way to which we will return in a moment. For a time the eighteenth century harmonic language was adequate to Beethoven's needs but only for a time. Beethoven and the romantics who were soon to follow found that the harmonic vocabulary they had inherited simply was not able to accommodate all of the structural and emotional requirements of their musical ideas. Due to the limitation of time it will be necessary to speak in general terms in this matter of harmonic languages. However in general we can say that the classical harmonic language is marked by a preference for chord progressions root progressions involving fourth and fifth. The very kinds of progressions which most unequivocally and most directly define a key define tonality for several reasons. Beethoven and the Romantics began to explore and emphasize
other kinds of chord progressions other kinds of progressions primarily those progressions known as the third relations. Undoubtedly one reason for this was simply the fact that the chord progressions and by extension we include here the harmonic motion from section to section and on a larger scale the harmonic motion from movement to movement. All of these progressions on whatever scale had become rather too predictable by the turn of the 19th century. We may say then that simply as a practical matter the early romantics and Beethoven among them began to develop armonica language which lavished an unprecedented amount of attention on third relations. But these new harmonic explorations were also precipitated by aesthetic impulses once more we must perforce speak in very general terms. But speaking generally we may say that it was part of the romantic aesthetic to attempt to express through music or perhaps to approach through music that which so
utterly fascinated the romantic namely the infinite without doubt the Romantic composer felt that he could not deal with the depth and mysteriousness of this infinite in terms of 1 4 5 and 1. In other words in terms of the simple chords of the 18th century harmonic language what was required for this purpose was some new unexplored and in its own way a mysterious harmonic language. Now both the classical and the romantic harmonic languages are tonal languages. That is they are both languages that deal with keys and key centers. But they frequently differ in the ways in which they establish tonality. I mentioned before that the classical language is the most direct route to the establishment of tonality. The romantic language follows a more Securitas route to the establishment of tonality. It is a language that carries with it the possibility of and frequently even the necessity for greater
length. This is one of the reasons why the average romantic symphony if indeed there is such an animal tends to be a much more protracted composition than the typical classical symphony. In the early 19th century there also develops a new attitude toward what a symphony is. It becomes something that is no longer devoted to the measured balance for individual movements. Rather it becomes a kind of piece in which the connections between one movement and the next are more and more intertwined. And as I mentioned before it very frequently happens that that which is labelled as one movement turns out to be two or more movements within a single movement and this kind of piece of movement depends for its very existence upon the movement which precedes it. It becomes a kind of narrative that cannot be interrupted or dismembered without suffering some essential loss of sense. The final movement in
this kind of symphony then becomes the culmination the end of the story if you will of necessity the musical weight is shifted toward the end of the symphony and this is one of the critical differences between the 18th and the 19th century symphony. What have you compare for example the final movement of. I'm a tour a symphony by jewels of Haydn. Say the Symphony Number ninety two. The Oxford symphony in G major. Compare that with the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony the Haydn is an utterly charming though decidedly lightweight movement. It is lightweight in comparison to its own first movement and it is almost weightless so to speak compared to the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. This of course is in no way a quality judgment. It is merely an attempt to point to one of the differences between the classical and the romantic idea of the symphony. In this case we are speaking only of the differences in the distribution of musical weight.
That's the height and now let's hear the opening measures of the finale of the Beethoven symphony.
Seems to me clear from these examples that the Haydn opening gesture of the last movement is not one destined to form the basis of a long and weighty movement. It is the shortest movement in this symphony. It is in fact what we might call the gesture of exit. Music is music designed to bring the piece to a conclusion. It is not a movement in which has invested a great deal of musical weight in the first 20 seconds or so. Most of the essential materials are presented. In contrast the Beethoven example that we played more of it than we did of the Haydn. And I still I think it's clear that the Beethoven example begins with a gesture that seems inevitably to call for a lengthy and weighty explanation. This is by far the longest single movement in the in this piece. The movement is in invested with the responsibility not only to end the piece but to
serve as the center of gravity as the culmination of the rest of the work as well. Now what we've been discussing considering so far are some of the ways in which the symphony as a genre underwent some fundamental changes during the life time and indeed in the very hands of Beethoven we have pointed to the emergence of a new and more varied harmonic language. They have not alluded to though we might well do so the emergence of new orchestral forces the trombone for example was added to the orchestra in the 19th century. We've alluded also to what developed as a new attitude toward not only the size and shape of the symphony but as well a new and different position with respect to the aesthetic and philosophical implications of the symphony. This is a position which has had an effect on the particular choices and usages of musical ideas and structure. The contrast between the late
18th century Symphony and the early 19th century symphony symphonic ideal is I think rather sharply drawn in the Beethoven symphonic repertory. Let's look for example at Beethoven's First Symphony Opus 21 Beethoven's earliest symphony is not strictly speaking a youthful work. The composer was after all about 30 years old at the time of its composition. Now work by Joseph Haydn at the age of 30 is a rather youthful work. The same is of course not true of Mozart who died in his thirties. Nor is it true of many of the early romantics. Several of whom also died in their thirties some in their early thirties at the time of the composition of his first symphony Beethoven had already composed the important six string quartets of Opus 18 the septet Opus 20. The first two piano concertos number of songs sets of variations and numerous chamber works. He was by this time much more than a fledgling composer.
He was a man who had already begun to formulate a personal style of his own. Nevertheless this first symphony for all that is a truly bit of Indian work stands heavily in the debt of Beethoven's classical inheritance. It is a four movement piece with slow introduction fast movement followed by slow movement followed by minuet followed by fast movement. In other words the order and character movements typical of the late classical symphony. To this standard design Beethoven and a few new features some are which some of which are all grist of the future development of the symphony as a genre. The finale Allegro in many respects. Haydn asked movement certainly in terms of its the magic materials it is Haydn esque his preference prefaced by a short adagio section and this is a feature which is not typical of the late 18th century symphony and it is also a feature which adds just a little extra weight to the finale.
A. Yeah. Just a hint of a little extra weight toward the end of the piece again much more typical of the 19th than of the 18th century symphony. Let's look elsewhere in this first symphony the third movement is called a minuet by Beethoven. It is a common suggestion in the Beethoven literature that this movement is really a scared so and not a minuet. The fact is that it is only with the Second Symphony that Beethoven begins to include the scared so. It strikes me that in this first symphony the dance movement is a kind of cross between a minuet and scared so it has the speed of a true scared so that is it is somewhat faster than the minuet and though it's difficult to put into words it does seem that this piece has not enough of the rough and ready character
so typical of the scared so its personality is closer to that of the minuet. While we're on the subject of the scared so. One of the most remarkable features of Beethoven's music and it is a feature which is especially pronounced in his scared SOS centers on his frequent practice of dislocating or otherwise disguising the downbeat. It is a procedure which frequently baffles the listener by failing to bring to realise Asian certain things that seemed entirely predictable from the opening measures of the piece. The composer establishes a simple rhythmic pattern and with just a very few repetitions of the pattern the listener quickly grasped its essence and is lowered into the comfortable position of believing that he is going to understand everything without much effort. In fact he seems justified in believing that the pattern will follow a course which now seems predictable but at just the moment when the listener has come for it is about to turn into boredom something unpredictable
occurs. The pattern explodes. The listener is right back where he started. Namely he is in the uncomfortable position of being able to predict nothing. Before he can recover his equilibrium and make sense out of the new rhythmic problem the explosion is over and a new much more readily predictable rhythmic pattern emerges once more. Since it is more comfortable to deal with the predictable situation than with the unpredictable the listener is grateful for the re-emergence of this new rhythmic now or downbeat pattern. But in the back of his mind he is still wondering what happened when the explosion occurred and why he couldn't figure it out. This is the perfect psychological arrangement for any composer. For it is an arrangement which nearly guarantees interest on the part of his listener the composer entices the listener into the music by promising him prompt and complete understanding which is another way of saying he
promises comfort. He then destroys the listener's faith in his own infallibility. He makes him uncomfortable. Finally he allows the listener to as it were save face. He makes him comfortable once more. But by this time the listener is jolted into reality. The listener is convinced that he knows something about what is going on but because he now realizes that his understanding is incomplete. He's intrigued to continue listening to find out what happens next. Let's see how this works with the minuet from the first symphony. The first eight bars do set up what quickly develops into a predictable downbeat pattern goes as follows. That dum de dum de dum de dum de dum de dum dum dum dum and Beethoven the master psychologist wants to make sure that everybody is in on the game that everybody realizes just how simple this downbeat pattern is. He therefore repeats the simple pattern.
Bump bump bump bump bump bump bump bump bump bump bomb book Bomb. Up up up up bum. Now he's certain that everyone has caught this little downbeat pattern and he feels justified in going on the next section of this minuet is turns out to be nothing but a variation the rhythmic harmonic variation of what has preceded just slightly different it goes as follows. But BOUM BOUM BOUM bump bump bump bump bump ball ball bump bump bump bump bottom. Still not too difficult to grasp in the light of the first 18 the first eight bars which were repeated his all seems very simple but the pattern then refuses to realize our predictions in the course of the next few bars we lose contact with that predictable heavy downbeat and for a time we can't be sure where the downbeats are. In the closing bars of the example I'm going to play. Beethoven
returns us once more to a more predictable arena. But listen if you will after the first eight bars of the new section and then toward the middle of that new section the disappearance or the dislocating of the downbeat. OK and once more on the subject of the scared so if I can skip from the first symphony we'll return to it in a moment look at another scared so that by Beethoven perhaps his most famous scared so that from the Eroica symphony. Same kind of thing goes on with the playing with the downbeat and the establishment
of some confusion about whether or not our feet are really on the ground in this case it so the situation is slightly reversed. The confusion about where the downbeat is comes right at the start of the piece and Beethoven does this by the simple trick of putting both putting the harmonic downbeat on both the metrical upbeat and the metrical downbeat and the effect is that we get two beats in a row that are of the same quality. We don't know whether they're both upbeats or both down beats the emphatic sense of downbeat first occurs only in about bar eight or so as the tune begins to emerge thereafter. This sense of real heavy downbeat appears and then disappears into the musical texture.
Who. Knew.
We've looked at it at just two of the four movements from Beethoven's First Symphony. In the case of the dance movement the minuet or scared so as you choose to look at it I think we see some rhythmic practices on the part of Beethoven that will stand as in good stead in analyzing a good deal of Beethoven's music and not mention the slow movement from this symphony. I think it is in many respects the most 18th century like movement in the piece. It carries a principal theme that is somewhat reminiscent of the slow movement of Mozart's Symphony number 40 in G minor. Turning to the first movement a number of people have mentioned the unorthodox harmony with which this piece begins. It is an orthodox to begin a classical piece in the subdominant but it is not without precedent. Those of you who are interested in such kinds of analysis I would refer you to. But one piece Haydn's piano sonata number 52 in E-flat
major That's number one in the pater's EDITION. The piece was written 1794 95. The first chord of this Haydn piece is the tonic. But this is followed immediately by the dominant subdominant and then the dominant. This lunge off into the subdominant area is most untypical of 18th century beginnings. Nevertheless that is the way in which Beethoven begins this first symphony. In other ways the harmony of Beethoven's First Symphony first movement occasionally speaks a language that has less to do with the standard 18th century practice than with early romantic harmony. There are for example some remarkable third relations. I would mention in passing the fact that the exposition section of this first movement fails to end in the expected key that is it fails to end in the dominant. Rather it ends in the tonic C major and that is followed immediately by the development section which begins on a major as a marvelous third relation the
C major to a major. Now let's examine what happens to the symphony and to Beethoven's musical language. In the course of the dozen or so years after Symphony Number one let's turn to Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. Carries the date 18 12 Beethoven referred to this piece as quote a grand symphony in a major and one of my best pieces and quote. This symphony is a product of Beethoven's maturity and it has almost nothing in common with the 18th century symphonic ideal. The designation of four movements with slow introduction is a little misleading for the slow movement. The slow introduction marked poco so as to Nutro has almost the dimensions of a movement itself and that's a practice to which we referred earlier in several ways. The movements of the Seventh Symphony draw upon a common fund of musical ideas and for that reason they seem to almost grow out of one another
in an organic Fanshen. There are some subtle fanatic relationships between some of the movements but perhaps the most striking as a unifying factor in this symphony is Beethoven's use of rhythm. Richard Wagner referred to this piece as quote the apotheosis of the dance and quote and it does seem to be an almost tech tile quality to this piece of quality which develops from the enormous amount of rhythmic vitality which believe Beethoven poort into the work. And this case not only in this case it's overt in all of the movements. The former first movement proper begins with a pounding repetitive rhythm bump bump bump bump bump bump bump bump. After four bars of this rhythmic figure the first theme appears and the theme seems to be an almost automatic outgrowth of this pounding rhythm for long stretches of time in this movement. The theme either disappears entirely
or is severely fragmented what remains in such instances is raw rhythmic energy a kind of rhythmic essence. Let's hear how this first theme develops out of the pounding rhythm as we move from the slow introduction to the first movement proper.
In turning to rhythm we are of course turning to only one of the parameters that make up the constituent parts of a piece by Beethoven. But in putting our finger on rhythm I think we point to one of the factors that produce the sense of urgency the sense of rhythmic vitality that we associate with the Beethoven style. This first movement is marked by occasional silences grand pauses but even these pauses only serve to further accentuate the relentlessness of the rhythmic drive the silences are filled not with relief but with anticipation. The listener knows that that pounding repetitive rhythm is going to come back. The second movement the slow movement of the Seventh Symphony is similarly permeated by a persistent rhythm as follows. Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb etc.. By itself the rhythm is in no way remarkable. It is in fact a very homely little
pattern. The same is true of the tune which accompanies it. If simplicity is a virtue then this tune has a virtue it is in every other respect a humble almost poverty stricken tune. Clearly the impact of this movement is not achieved by dint of this simple tune. Rather it is what happens to this tune in the course of this movement that makes the movement the marvelous piece of music. It is in the course of the movement the tune is so to speak and Noble. By the time Beethoven has finished adding counter melodies to this tune by the time he has taken it through a series of increasingly richer orchestrations and by the time he has finally bestowed upon it the ultimate dignity by making it the basis of a fugue that most learned musical procedure the tune has acquired a completely different personality. It is no longer the simple humble tune stuck on one note that it was when the movement began. It is a tune that
can never be taken lightly again. Comes the question. Is this movement adequately described as a rondo with development and attendant persistent rhythmic pattern. Or does a deeper understanding of the piece require us to examine as well the personality of Beethoven and to search for those aesthetic impulses which may possibly have affected Beethoven's choice and handling of the technical properties which constitute the piece. First let's hear how this simple tune and simple rhythmic pattern are exposed by Beethoven and developed both orchestrally and in terms of counter melodies. Let's hear the opening of the second movement of the Seventh Symphony.
You are.
Yes I think we notice that the rhythm permeates all of this piece. It never leaves once it begins and somehow it seems to grow in intensity as a kind of snowballing effect. Beethoven keeps adding layers of orchestration keeps adding counter melodies I mentioned before. I like to skip ahead in the movement just a little bit to where the plays and which the tune returns again this time. Beethoven as I said before makes of the tune the subject of a fugue.
You're. You're. In some quarters today. It is definitely out of fashion to regard a composer's music as anything other than an arrangement of acoustical events. A host of earlier music odd refers and Amma to a music lovers have drawn some rather fanciful conclusions about what certain pieces of music mean or what they attempt to convey in either a philosophical or an extra musical sense. Such totally subjective and conjectural accounts have put a rather bad taste in our mouths. We are reluctant as well we should be to read things into a composer's music. Some believe it is pointless to expend energy
on such considerations in as much as nothing can ever be can conclusively proved. Some believe that music has only what is called a logic of its own. It means and can mean or be only itself. The piece of music is viewed not as an extension of the composer's personality but only as a product of the composer's technical accuracy. The whole business of the psychology of music is I think it's fair to say in its infancy that thus we are not yet in a position to know with scientific accuracy precisely what music means whether it is an expression of something outside itself whether its fascination derives from its technical apparatus or whether it is some combination of these factors. This is a subject that lies far beyond the limits of the present discussion unless it is a problem that must be kept in mind must be kept at least on the fringes of consideration in discussions of the work of
Beethoven and it is particularly in the seventh symphony that such considerations seem to be called for. Our subject today is Beethoven not program music. And we must confine ourselves to only those areas where the two meet or seem to meet. One has to understand the whole business of program music or literary dash musical affiliations in the context of the very early 19th century the extramusical in music and to some extent the programme matic in music may perhaps be as old as music itself. In any case these things these notions were not born in the 19th century they are notions that have a very long history. But it happens that in the very late 18th century and early 19th century these considerations became dominant considerations in the musical realm. A great many figures from the musical and journalistic worlds addressed themselves to this fascinating question of
the correspondences between the new music and human emotions or the new music and its correspondences between the other arts or the new music and correspondences between objects from the natural world which form the basis of extramusical and in some cases program magic music. One may argue that Beethoven had little interest in such theories but it cannot be argued that he was unacquainted with these theories. They are very definitely a factor in the musical world in his day. A number of contemporary music journals and encyclopedias devoted a great deal of space to articles on various facets of the whole question. One for example is the Allgemeine of musicology a very important and prominent musical journal in Beethoven's day. In 1785 A Frenchman named last episode wrote and I translated quote The musician experiences the rustic in his heart
then translates that experience into sound. These sentiments awaken in the listener the idea here and the listener believes that he sees the countryside. So you see this is not something restricted. Just of the 19th century nor even just to Germany. As I say that quote is from a French woman. To return to Germany for a moment let's consider a man by the name of Justin Heinrich connect K N E C H T. His dates are seven thousand fifty two to eight hundred seventeen. There's a very prominent composer and writer on music in his day. It is I think almost doubtless that Beethoven would have been acquainted with this man his picture appeared in the ANZ the Allgemeine of music Alesha Zeitoun. He was a frequent contributor to that magazine but more important or at least more entertaining for our
purposes is the fact that connect wrote a symphony in 1784 called a musical portrait of nature. And it reads so much like the program of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony that I want to quote the subtitles from connects the Pastoral Symphony first movement. I am quoting now Mr connects interpretation of the music from the various movements of the symphony. Like Beethoven's it is a five movement symphony. First Movement. A beautiful country where the sun shines gentle Zephyrs frolick Brooks cross the valley birds twitter a torrent falls from the mountain. The shepherd pipes the Lambs gamble and the sweet voiced Shepherd has seen all of that synth contained in the first movement. The second movement. Suddenly the sky darkens and oppressive closeness pervades the air. Black clouds gather. The Wind Rises distant thunder is heard and the storm slowly
approaches. Third movement. The Tempest bursts in all its fury. The wind howls and the rain beats the trees grown and the streams rush furiously. Fourth movement the storm gradually passes the clouds disperse and the sky clears the last movement. Nature raises her joyful voice to heaven in songs of gratitude to the Creator. I think you'll agree with me those of you who know the Beethoven Pastoral Symphony that there really is an affinity between a next piece or K'NEX program and Beethoven's program might just for the record read Beethoven's program to his Sixth Symphony the Pastoral Symphony. Notice the difference but one thing there are many fewer words in the Beethoven program. It runs as follows The first movement awakening of serene impressions on arriving in the country second movement seen by the brook.
Third movement. Jolly gathering of the peasants. Fourth movement. Storm. Fifth movement. Shepherd's song. Glad some and thankful feelings after the St.. So it really does follow the program but in about oh maybe one tenth the number of words. Beethoven did use these program matic titles. They are his invention. But he was very sceptical about overdoing the whole business of programs in his words. Anyone who understands or has a feeling for the country will know what my piece is about. Now in our discussion thus far we have had occasion to draw examples from symphonies 1 3 5 6 7 and 9 and thus we are guilty of repeating what by now is an old prejudice namely the rather strange prejudiced against Beethoven symphony 2 4 and 8 to speak in popular terms. We concede that everyone is entitled to his favorite
Beethoven symphony or symphonies. Still it is strange that the opinions of these of the the relative merit of the Beethoven symphonies should vary so little as they seem to do. It has become something of a maxim that in the Beethoven symphonic landscape the odd numbered symphonies are the mountain peaks and the even numbered or most of them are the valleys between. In this connection a number of what we might call quasi mythological theories have been advanced and developed over the years and I'm here drawing on the words of for the most part of earlier music OG refers though these words are supported by the programming of Beethoven symphonies today it is a fact that we hear most frequently the even numbered symphonies even by some of the world's most renowned and responsible orchestras. It is the even numbered symphonies that get shoved off into the background.
But to return to the words of earlier music AGA for is if I can put some of those words together and make it kind of topographical. Survey of the feelings about the various Beethoven symphonies. It would run something like this. The first symphony is considered historically significant says since it is Beethoven's First albeit brilliant symphonic efford Symphony Number two is in retrospect a preparation for the colossal effort of the erotica Symphony the Eroica representing as it does Beethoven's second longest symphonic effort and in many ways a brand new kind of symphony. Surely require the expenditure of an enormous amount of creative energy. It is perhaps for this reason that some choose to look upon the somewhat old fashioned Symphony Number 4 as a creative breather for Beethoven. But frankly I think we learned more about the creative energy capacities of the commentators in question than we do about Beethoven's
energy from such assessments. But let's continue with the topographical explanation. Having caught his creative breath with number four. Beethoven was once more ready for a Herculean effort and the result was. Up up up up. I'm not in that key. How about the success. And again by inference the high quality of the even numbered the Pastoral Symphony is attributable to the fact that it represents for Beethoven yet another new kind of symphony. The program matic requiring a different kind of energy from that of its predecessor and from that of its magnificent successor number seven. To some of these same music ah grapher is an amateur who are music lovers of the past Symphony Number 8 represents the deepest valley surrounded as it is by the Giants 5 6 and 7 on the one hand and the colossus of number 9 on the other. Such attitudes lead to a fundamental misunderstanding of the entire Beethoven symphonic repertory.
Every symphony every Beethoven symphony represents something in particular in his development as a composer of symphonies. That is a claim that not even the giants of the 18th century symphonic literature can make. It has been suggested that the symphony came to mean something to the 19th century composer quite different from what it meant to his 18th century counterpart. Even the sheer force of numbers tells us something in this respect. For example Haydn wrote over 100 symphonies Mozart almost half that number. But Beethoven only nine symphonies and Schubert. No more than that. Mendelssohn Schumann and later Brahms for each. It seems clear that beginning with Beethoven the 900 century symphonic composer looked upon the symphony as the vehicle for some of his weighty ist statements by restricting our knowledge of the Beethoven symphonic repertory to but roughly half of his output. We restrict ourselves to half of the fund of his
statements issued in the genre of the symphony. The Eighth Symphony suffers by comparison to its neighbors 7 and 9. I think only to those who are unfamiliar with the Eighth Symphony It is a circular and foolish argument which insists that the Eighth Symphony is somehow not as good as the seventh because it is not the seventh. It was never intended to be. And we do Beethoven a great disservice by labeling the Eighth Symphony as a valley the Eighth Symphony is a completely different kind of piece from either the seventh or the ninth. One may prefer the seventh to the eighth but one should do that only on the basis of having a real acquaintance with the Eighth Symphony. In many ways the Eighth Symphony is Beethoven's grand a joke written at a fairly late stage in his life. It is a piece full of humor the kind of humor possibly matched by verity in a piece like
Falstaff. The Eighth Symphony is deliberately old fashioned in some respects but the more we listen to the piece the more we are convinced that Beethoven pulled a gigantic joke on us all a joke and at the same time a pleasure. Or he convinced us that there was still something very important left to be said in the old harmonic language and in many respects this piece is simpler harmonic than harmonically speaking than either of its neighbors in the light of what we have been discussing today about Beethoven and his development as a symphonic composer and about the development of the symphony as a genre. I think it is fitting that we close our discussion with an example from one of Beethoven's late symphonies the symphony I've been talking about most recently. The Eighth Symphony in as much as it is it appears to be one of the orphans of the Beethoven literature.
You are. Thank. You.
This was another in the series Beethoven the man who freed music programs especially produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service to commemorate the 200000 of our story of the birth of Live Big Fun Beethoven in 1778. Almost today was Ronald Burnside a member of the faculty at the University of Illinois School of Music. And guest lecturer in music at the University of Michigan School of Music for the 69 70 school year. Burnside's topic with Beethoven his symphonies. Are invited to join us again next week at the same time for another program in the series. Beethoven. 3. Music.
Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music
Episode Number
Byrnside: Beethoven - His Symphonies
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University of Michigan Broadcasting Service
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music is a program from the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service and the National Educational Radio Network. The series focuses on Beethovens life and works through musical selections and lectures from faculty members at the University of Michigan. The program was originally produced in 1970 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Beethovens birth, and was later distributed by National Public Radio.
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Producing Organization: University of Michigan Broadcasting Service
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 70-15-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:59:42
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Chicago: “Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music; 8; Byrnside: Beethoven - His Symphonies,” 1972-05-24, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 11, 2022,
MLA: “Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music; 8; Byrnside: Beethoven - His Symphonies.” 1972-05-24. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 11, 2022. <>.
APA: Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music; 8; Byrnside: Beethoven - His Symphonies. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from