BEETHOVEN'S FIFTH SYMPHONY
"If the classicizing ideal of beauty proved too abstract to encompass the artistic reality of Mozart, its application to Beethoven seemed questionable from the beginning. For as E.T.A. Hoffmann stressed in his famous review of the Fifth Symphony, Beethoven's music is permeated by the sublime. . . ." [Kinderman: 8].
William Kinderman's above consideration of the essence of the Fifty Symphony might, perhaps, guide our thoughts with respect to this work along a 'less beaten path' than the obvious one that one might follow with respect to this work. At first, however, we might wish to gain a good grasp of the chronology of the creation of this symphony.
According to Barry Cooper's source [Nottebohm, Skizzenbuch 1803], Beethoven's earliest sketches to this symphony appear to go back to the year noted in the Nottebohm title. Cooper writes:
" . . . The earliest known sketches (Landsberg 6, pp. 155-6) are for the third movement, and they already show the four-note motif from bars 19-20 that (with different accentuation) was to play such a prominent role in the first movement and indeed the whole symphony; a Trio in C major with running bass quavers is also represented [15: Nottebohm, Skizzenbuch 1803,70]. The following pages show the opening section of the first movement--also surprisingly close to the final version, albeit somewhat abridged as was often the case with early sketches for a work. . . . " [Cooper: 169-70].
As Cooper further writes [p. 159-70], the next group of sketches goes back to the middle of 1804 and shows the theme of the second movement that is marked 'Andante quasi Menuetto', with a 'quasi trio' designation at bar 22. However, at this time, the finale appears to have been planned as a 6/8 movement in c minor, completely different from the final result. Lewis Lockwood (p. 218) also writes that Beethoven " . . . sketched an embryonic plan for it in the later pages of the Eroica sketchbook as early as 1804". Thayer-Forbes' chapter to the year 1808 [p. 431] also refers to early sketches to the Fifth Symphony that can be found next to sketches for the Fourth Piano Concerto and for the first act of Leonore; as TF writes, there, the themes for the first and second movement are still in very simple form, and an idea for the finale has not been realized. Thayer-Forbes's source is Nottebohm, Beeth., pp. 10-15. As TF continues, further sketches can be found at the end of the "Eroica" sketchbook and show some progress in the conception of the theme of the first movement and of the two scherzo themes. With respect to this point, TF refers to Nottebohm, Ein Skizzenbuch aus dem Jahr 1880, p. 70-71. TF places both sketches into the year 1804.
These reports allow us to consider that in 1804, Beethoven was at least occupied with early sketches to the Fifth Symphony. From our creation history to of his only opera Fidelio, from the relevant section of our Biographical Pages and from further creation histories of our website we also know that from 1804 up to the spring of 1806, Beeethoven was occupied with the composition (and revision) of his opera Fidelio/Leonore and with his growing passion for Josephine von Brunsvik.
This 'leap' has brought us into the year 1806, and with respect to it, TF [p. 432] refers to Nottebohm who, II Beeth., p. 528-34, describes a collection of sketches to all movements of the Fifth Symphony that, as TF infers from Nottebohm, belong to this year; what we do not know with certainty is at what time during this year these sketches were written. As we know, during the fall of this year, Beethoven stayed at Prince Lichnowsky's castle Grätz near Troppau in Silesia and, with his patron, visited Count Oppersdorff and received from him a commission to write a symphony. With respect to this, let us quote a passage from our creation history of the Fourth Symphony:
"From all of this, we can at least conclude that Oppersdorff commissioned from Beethoven "a" symphony. As Thayer-Forbes (p. 410) reports, sketches "prove" that Beethoven's work on the Fifth Symphony, Op. 67, had already been begun but that they were also set aside in favor of his work on the Fourth Symphony."
About the war situation in October 1806, about Beethoven's falling-out with Prince Lichnowsky and about his hasty return to Vienna, we already reported in our Biographical Pages and in our creation histories to the String Quartets, Op. 59 and to the Fourth Symphony.
Since, as we also know, the Fourth Symphony, Op. 60, had already been completed in 1806, after that, Beethoven might have had time to return to his previous sketches for the Fifth Symphony.
With respect to his further work on this symphony, Solomon [p. 204] writes that Beethoven had completed his sketches to it the winter of 1806/1807 or somewhat later. While TF [p. 429] assumes that Beethoven was working on Op. 67 in this year, Barry Cooper [p. 169-170] mentions that in addition to the one symphony that Count Oppersdorff had commissioned from Beethoven in the fall of 1806, he had commissioned one in addition to it, again for a fee of 500 florins and that, in June 1807, he had paid Beethoven an advance of 200 florins for it, at a time at which the composer had already made considerable progress with the Fifth Symphony. Cooper writes that the symphony was completed by the end of 1807. This somewhat corresponds with Solomon's report [p. 204] that Op. 67 " . . . was . . . written out in the latter part of 1807 and the first months of 1808 . . . completed by the spring of that year . . . ". TF [p. 450] also refers to the completion of the c-minor symphony Op. 67 in the year 1808.
The time from the turn of 1806/1807 until the spring of 1808 is also part of that period in Beethoven's life in which he had to get used to scraping by without the 600 florins of his annual salary that he had previously received from Prince Lichnowsky. Moreover, this was the time with respect to which we, by looking at the pre-history to the first performance of the Fifty Symphony, will see that it would also be the time of his unsuccessful attempts at obtaining a date for an academy concert in his own benefit. We shall discuss this in our next, separate section.
We have decided to discuss the topic of Beethoven's Academy Concert of December 22, 1808, on a separate page. The following link leads you there while you will not lose this page from your screen:
PUBLICATION AND DEDICATION
Due to the fact that Beethoven, as we could see, had originally 'earmarked' the Fifth Symphony for Count Oppersdorff, we should take a look at how this patron did not enter music history as the symphony's dedicatee and who ultimately received the dedication. With respect to Beethoven's further contact with Count Oppersdorff, Cooper reports:
"In a letter datable to March 1808, Beethoven told Oppersdorff that the symphony had been 'ready for a long time' . . .
Beethoven's letter to Oppersdorff promised that a score would be sent almost at once, in exchange for the remaining 300 florins; the letter implies, however, that the count was still entitled to refuse the work instead of paying 300 florins, and a receipt dated 29 March 1808 indicates that he paid 150 florins as a further instalment without receiving the score. He had still not received it by November, when Beethoven explained that he had had to sell the score 'to someone else', but he promised that Oppersdorff would still receive a score. He had a second copy made, for use at a forthcoming concert (see below), and there is every likelihood that this went to Oppersdorff after the concert, in exchange for the remaining 150 florins, although there is no record of this transaction. The person who received the first copy was Gottfried Härtel, of the publishers Breitkopf & Härtel, who were by now back in favour with Beethoven and published all his major works from Op. 67 (the Fifth Symphony) to Op. 86 (the Mass in C) during 1809-12" [Cooper: 171].
Again, with respect to Beethoven's correspondence with Breitkopf & Härtel, we can refer you to our separate page:
While we can follow Beethoven's negotiations with this Leipzig publisher via the above link, here, we still want to point out what Thayer-Forbes reports of this correspondence with respect to Op. 67:
"Under date "Vienna, March 4, 1809," Beethoven wrote to Breitkopf and Härtel:
Most honored Sir:
From the enclosed you see how things have changed, and that I shall stay here--although perhaps I can plan to make a little trip after all if the storm clouds that are now threatening don't develop;--but you will get the news in time enough-- Here are the Opus no's etc. of the three works--Sonata for Pianoforte and Violoncello to Herr Baron von Gleichenstein Op. 59. Both symphonies to both men jointly, namely dedicated to His Excellency Count Razumovsky and to His Serene Highness Prince Lobkowitz--Symphony in C minor Op. 60, Symphony in F Op. 61-- . . .
The most important change concerned the Fifth Symphony. After the performance in December Beethoven decided that the sustained D of the main theme at measure 4 should be held an extra measure [note sample'. This was to be done also at the four similar statements in the movement (meas. 23, 227, 251, and 481).
The corrections, however, were not sent until March 28th, which explains the fact that in the first edition of these two symphonies, appearing about April, 1809, the changes were not made. Paul Hirsch has pointed out how the situation was remedied quickly by the appearance of the second edition before the end of 1809.[3: "A Discrepancy in Beethoven," Music and Letters, Vol. 19 91938), pp. 266-67]. About this time came out new compositions and new editions or arrangements of old ones which occupied the opus numbers from 59 to 66 and compelled Beethoven to change these proposed numbers, 59-62 to 67-70" [Thayer-Forbes: 460-1].
We also want to feature the letter Thayer quotes above, in its original version and with our own translation:
"Beethoven an Breitkopf & Härtel in in Leipzig
Vien am 4ten März 1809
Aus dem hierbeygefügten, sehen sie wie die sachen sich verändert haben, und ich bleibe -- obschon ich vieleicht doch noch eine kleine Reise zu machen gesonnen bin, wenn sich nicht Die jezigen Drohenden Gewitter-Wolken zuammen ziehen; -- sie erhalten aber gewiß zeitig genug Auskunft -- hier das opus etc von den 3 Werken -- <So>Sonate für Klawier und Violonzell Dem Herrn Baron Gleichenstein Gwidmet op. 59. <Si>Beyde<den> Sinfonien Den beyden Herrn zugleich nemlich: S.[einer] Exzellenz Dem Grafen Rasoumowsky und Seiner Durchlaucht dem Fürsten Lobkowitz gewidmet -- <op> Sinfonie in c moll op. 60, Sinfonie in F op. 61 -- sie erhalten Morgen eine anzeige von kleinen Verbesserungen, welche ich während Der Aufführung der Sinfonien machte; -- als ich sie ihnen gab, hatte ich noch keine davon gehört -- und man muß nicht so göttlich seyn wollen, etwas hier oder da in seinen Schöpfungen zu verbessern -- Hr. Stein Trägt ihnen an die Sinfonien zu 2 Klawier zu übersezen, schreiben sie mir ob sie das wollen, oder sie wollen, und Honoriren wollen? -- --
ich empfehle mich ihnen bestens und bin in eile
Die Trios werden gewidmet A Madame la Comtesse Marie d'Erdödy née Comtesse Niczky Dame de la Croix
Beethoven to Breitkopf & Härtel in in Leipzig
Vienna, on the 4th of March, 1809
Highly Esteemed Sir!
From the attached you see how matters have changed here, and I am staying--although I might still be inclined to go on a small journey, if the threatening thunderstorm clouds will not move closer together;--In any event, you will be advised, in time--here the opus etc of the 3 works--<So>Sonata for Piano and Violoncello dedicated to Herr Baron von Gleichenstein Op. 59 Both symphonies to both gentlemen at the same time, namely: To H[is] Excellency Count Rasoumowsky and his Highness Prince Lobkowitz--<op> Symphony in c minor Op. 60, Symphony in F Op. 61--tomorrow, you will receive a list of minor corrections that I made during the performance of the symphonies--when I gave them to you I had not heard either one of them, yet--and one must not want to be so divine as [not] to improve something in one's creations, here or there--Hr. Stein is offering you to transcribe the symphonies into piano reductions for two pianos, write to me if you want that, and if you want to pay for it?-- --
I send my best greetings and am, in haste,
your most devoted
The Trios will be dedicated A Madame la Comtesse Marie d'Erdödy née Comtesse Niczky Dame de la Croix Op. 62
[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe Vol. 2, Letter No. 359; p. 45-47]
[Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus; to : refers to the fact that the recipient can be derived from the content of the letter; to : refers to the possibility of Beethoven's having enclosed a copy of the pension contract; with respect to this, the GA quotes the AMZ 11 (1809) report, column 395f: "Der geistreiche, genialische, tiefsinnige B e e t h o v e n privatisirte bisher in Wien und die mancherley offenbaren oder versteckten Gegenparteyen, die er, vornämlich unter Musikern von Profession, daselbst fand, mochten ihm die Verhältnisse dieses seines Privatlebens nicht selten erschweren. Vor kurzem erhielt er nun vom westphälischen Hofe durch Hr. Kapellm. Reichard, welcher sich jetzt in Wien aufhält, einen vorteilhaften Ruf, und glaubte ihm folgen zu müssen. Da traten einige der edelsten Schützer und Freunde der Tonkunst in Wien zusammen, erwägend, dass eben Beethovens Genius im Hauptsitz deutscher Instrumentalmusik, in Wien, verweilen, und ohne zu entscheidende fremde Einflüsse seinen selbstgebrochenen Pfad weiter wandeln müsse. Sie, die es gewiss empfanden, dass es den Grossen und Vielvermögenden nicht nur ziere, dass es nicht nur ihm die Herzen gewinne, sondern auch ein wahres Verdientst um die Mit- und Nachwelt sey, wenn er ausgezeichneten Geistern von irgend einer Art Raum und freye Thätigkeit verschafft -- sie, der E r z h e r z o g R u d o l p h, der F ü r s t L o b k o w i t z, und der F ü r s t K i n s k y, fertigten dem Künstler, unter den ehrenvollesten und zugleich schonendsten Aeusserungen, ein Dokument aus, worin sie ihm -- blos, damit er sorgenfrey seiner Kunst leben, und auch ohne Abhängigkeit vom Geschmack der gemeinern Menge, grosse, erhabene, vielumfassende Werke liefern könne -- die jährliche Rente von v i e r t a u s e n d G u l d e n zusichern; und zwar soll Beethoven diese Rente beziehen, bis er zu einer Anstellung gelangt, welche ihm wenigstens eben so viel einträgt, und im Fall, dass er durch Umstände irgend einer Art solch eine Anstellung zu finden verhindert würde, auf Lebenszeit. Der Künstler hingegen hat sich dafür zu nichts verbindlich zu machen, als dass er Wien oder einen anderen Ort der österreichischen Erbstaaten zu seinem Aufenthalt wähle, und wenn er diese Staaten ja auf gewisse Zeit, etwa zum Vortheile seiner Kunst und andern Angelegenheiten zu verlassen geneigt sey, dies nur auf Fristen und im Einverständnis mit diesen seinen Gönnern geschehe"; ["the gifted, ingenious, profound B e e t h o v e n, up to this time, led a private life in Vienna and the many obvious or hidden rivals that he found there, predominantly amongst professional musicians, not seldom might have made his private life difficult. Recently, he received the offer of a favorable position at the Westfalian court, through Herr Kapellmeister Reichardt, who is in Vienna at present, and believed that he had to follow it. Then, some of the most noble protectors and friends of music in Vienna convened, pondering that Beethoven's genius should remain in the capital of German instrumental music, in Vienna, without his having to pursue his self-chosen path with too many decisive outside influences. They, who certainly felt that the great and wealthy would not only be honored, that their hearts would not only gain, but that they would do a great service to their contemporaries and descendants if they were to provide room and freedom for excellent minds and their activities--they, A r c h d u k e R u d o l p h, P r i n c e L o b k o w i t z , and P r i n c e K i n s k y, drafted a document for the artist, under the most honorable and, at the same time, also most conciliatory, statements, with which they offer him--merely so that he can live for his art free of sorrows, and so that he could also, without any consideration for the taste of the common crowds, create great, sublime, comprehensive works--the annual pension of f o u r t h o u s a n d f l o r i n s; Beethoven is to receive this pension until he will attain a position that results in a remuneration that is at least equal to it, and in the event that, due to circumstances of any kind, he would be prevented from finding such a position, for his lifetime. In return, the artist does not have to obligate himself to anything other than choosing Vienna or one of the Austrian states as his place of residence, and if he wants to leave these states for a certain time, for example, for the advantage of his art, and for other reasons, this should only occur with the permission of these, his patrons"]; to : probably refers to the political and military actions on the eve of the Fifth Coalition War (April 9, 1809, declaration of war by Austria to France); to : refers to the fact that Beethoven obviously did not realize that these and the following opus numbers had already been assigned to works of his that had been published in 1808 by the Kunst- und Industrie-Comptoir; to : refers to the fact that, still before its publication, this work's opus number was changed to Op. 67; to : refers to the fact that, still before its publication, this work's opus number was changed to Op. 68; to : probably refers to the corrections that were only sent off with Letter No. 370 of March 28, 1809; to : refers to the fact that both symphonies had been performed at the Academy Concert at the Theater-an-der-Wien on December 22, 1808; to : refers to the fact that in September, 1808, Beethoven had given the scores to the three mentioned works to Härtel; to : probably refers to the pianist Friedrich Stein, the youngest son of the piano maker Johann Andreas Stein; to : refers to the fact that the text of the following dedication was written by an another hand, but the Opus number by Beethoven; to : refers to the fact that still before its publication, this work's opus number was changed to Op. 70; details taken from p. 46-47.]
Thayer-Forbes also refers to Beethoven's letter to the publisher of August 21, 1810:
"On August 21, 1810, he wrote to the firm at great length. . . .
The postscript contains the following little note containing an important correction in the Scherzo of the Fifth Symphony:
. . . I have found another error in the Symphony in C minor, namely, in the third movement in 3/4 time where, after the # # # the minor returns again, it reads (I just take the bass part) thus: [note sample] The two measures marked by a X are redundant and must be stricken out, of course also in the parts that are pausing." [Thayer-Forbes: 499-500].
Let us also take a look at this postscript:
"Beethoven an Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig
Baden am 21ten SommerMonath [=August] 1810
. . .
Indem ich ihren Brief finde von schon ziemlich langer Zeit finde ich eine Stelle, wo es heißt "zu den übrigen No des oratoriums sindie [sic] Posaunen da, zum Chor fehlen sie aber, so wie die Trompeten und Pauken" aber zu was für einem Chor ist nicht gesagt, sehr lieb wär es mir, wenn sie mir dieses gleich anzeigen könnten, sollte es nicht sich nicht finden, so muyß ich freylich noch einmal nachsuchen, ums herauszubringen -- schreiben sie mir doch zugleich gütigst, welches von den 3 Werken sie zuerst herausgeben -- ich wollte ihnen damals eine andre Orgelstime schicken, Unterdessen war ich gedrängt von so vielen andern Seiten, daß es unmöglich war, sollte es noch Zeit seyn würde ich sie ihnen schiken -- folgenden Fehler habe ich noch in der Sinfonie aus c moll gefunden nemlich im 3ten Stück im 3/4tel Takt wo nach dem dur # # # wieder das moll eintritt steht so: ich nehme gleich die Baßstimme, nemlich [Notenbeispiel] die zwei Täkte, worüber das X ist, sind zuviel, und müßen ausgestrichen werden, versteht sich auch in allen übrigen Stimmen, die pausiren --"
"Beethoven to Breitkopf & Härtel in Leipzig
Baden on the 21st summer month [=August] 1810
Since I am just coming across your letter from some time ago, I find a passage in which you write "with respect to the remaining no of the oratorio, the trombones are there, however, with respect to the chorus, they are missing, as well as trumpets and kettle drums", however, you do not mention with respect to what chorus, I would very much like it if you could let me know this right away, in the event that you can not find it, I would certainly have to search for it, again, in order to find it--kindly also let me know right away which of the three works you will publish first--at that time, I wanted to send you another organ part, in the meantime, being approached by so many other sides, it was impossible, if there would still be time, I would send it to you-- I still have found the following mistakes in the c-Minor Symphony namely in the 3rd piece in 3/4 time where after the Major # # # Minor sets in again, it is written thus: I am taking the bass part, namely [note sample], the two measures, above which the X is, are too many, and they have to be crossed out, of course, also in all other parts that are pausing-- "
[Source: Ludwig van Beethoven Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe, Vol. 2, Letter No. 465, p. 148-152]
[Original: Bonn, Beethoven-Haus, Bodmer Collection; to 25]: refers to Letter No. 427 of February 21, 1810, which has not been preserved; to : refers to the fact that on February 4, 1820, in Letter No. 432, Beethoven had announced a separate organ part for the Mass Op. 86; to : refers to measures 238a/239a in the third movement of Op. 67; details taken from p. 151-152.]
Thayer's reference [p. 478] to the publications of the year 1809, with respect to the Fifth Symphony, lists:
". . .
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, "dédiée a son Altresse Sérénissime Monseigneur le Prince régnant de Lobkowitz, Duc de Raudnitz, et a son Excellence Monsieur le Comte de Rasumoffsky".
From this we can see that Prince Lobkowitz and Count Razumovsky were the ultimate dedicatees of this symphony, and we also know why.
It should not take long for this symphony to receive a famous review. We will feature this review in our next section.
RECEPTION OF THE FIFTH SYMPHONY DURING BEETHOVEN'S LIFE TIME
Thayer-Forbes (p. 279), in the chapter to the year 1801, refers to this review:
"In the number of May 26, 1802, Vol. IV, along with a notice of the two Sonatas for Pianoforte and Violin, Op. 23 and Op. 34, begins that long series of fair, candid and generously eulogistic articles on Beethoven's works which culminated in July, 1810, in the magnificent review of the C minor Symphony by E.T.A. Hoffmann--a labor of love that laid the foundation of a new school of musical criticism."
Let us feature this review here in our own translation into English:
"Sinfonie pour 2 Violons, 2 Violes, Violoncelle et Contre-Violon, 2 Flutes, petite Flute, 2 Hautbois, 2 Clarinettes, 2 Bassons, Contrebasson, 2 Cors, 2 Trompettes, Timbales et 5 Trompes, composée de dediée etc. par Louis van Beethoven. a Leipsic, chez Breitkopf et Härtel, Oeuvre 67. No. 5. des Sinfonies. (Pr. 4 Rthlr. 12 Gr.)
The reviewer has before him one of the most important works of that master of whom no-one will deny that he holds the first-rank position among instrumental composers; he is permeated by the topic which he is to discuss, and no-one may blame him if he, stepping beyond the boundaries of customary reviews, strives to put everything into words that this composition made him feel deeply. -- Whenever music is discussed as an independent art, it should always be referred to as instrumental music which, refusing the aid of any other art, expresses the unique essence of art that can only be recognized in it. It is the most romantic of all arts, one would almost want to say, the only truly romantic one.-- Orpheus' lyre opened the gates of the underworld. Music opens to man an unknown realm, a world that has nothing in common with the outer sensual world that surrounds him, a realm in which he leaves behind all of his feelings of certainty, in order to abandon himself to an unspeakable longing. How little did those instrumental composers who tried to depict those certain emotions or even events recognize the unique essence of music, trying instead to treat that art that is diametrically opposed to the plastic arts in a plastic way! Dittersdorf's symphonies of this kind, as well as all newer Bateilles des trois Empereurs etc. are, as ridiculous aberrations, to be punished by being entirely forgotten. -- In song, where poetry indicates certain affects, the magic power of music works like the miraculous elixir of the wise, a few drops of which make every drink delicious and wonderful. Every passion -- love -- hatred -- anger -- despair etc., as opera gives it to us, envelops music in the purple shimmer of romanticism and even that which has been felt in real life leads us out of it into the realm of the infinite. So strong is the magic of music, and working ever more powerful, that it had to break every restraint of other forms of art. -- It was certainly not only the improvement of the means of expression (perfection of the instruments, greater virtuosity of the players), but also the deeper, more profound realization of the essence of music that caused great composers to elevate it to its present height. Mozart und Haydn, the creators of contemporary instrumental music, showed this art in its full glory, for the first time; who looked at it with all of his love and penetrated to its innermost essence, is--Beethoven. The instrumental compositions of all of these three masters breathe the same romantic spirit, which lies in the same inner grasp of the peculiar essence of this art; however, the character of their compositions differs noticeably.--The expression of a child-like, serene mind, governs Haydn's compositions. His symphonies lead us to endlessly green pastures, to a merry, colorful throng of happy people. Dancing youths and maidens are floating by; laughing children, hiding behind trees and rose bushes, throw flowers at each other. A life full of love, of bliss, like before original sin, in eternal youth; no suffering, no pain, only a sweet, melancholy longing for a figure that floats by in the distance, at dusk, and does not come nearer, does not vanish, and, as long as it is present, does not turn into night, since it is the evening glow, itself, in which mountains and fields are steeped. Mozart leads us into the realm of spirits, but without pain, it is more of an anticipation of the infinite. Love and melancholy sound in lovely spirit voices; night arrives in a purple glow, and with unspeakable longing, we move towards them who wave at us to join their ranks and to fly with them through the clouds in their eternal dance of the spheres. (Mozart's Symphony in E-flat Major which is known by the name of swan song.) Beethoven's instrumental music, too, opens to us the realm of the gigantic and unfathomable. Glowing rays of light shoot through the dark night of this realm, and we see gigantic shadows swaying back and forth, encircling us closer and closer, destroying us, but not the pain of infinite longing in which every delight, rising up in joyful voices, sinks and drowns, and only in this pain, consuming love, hope, joy, but not destroying it and aiming at bursting our chests with its unison of all passions, do we live on and are we rapturous seers of the realm of spirits. Romantic taste is rare, and even more rare is the romantic talent; this is probably why there are so few who can play the lyre whose sound opens up the wonderful realm of romanticism. Haydn sees the human in human life in a romantic fashion; his music is more commensurable, more comprehensible to the majority. Mozart evokes the super-human, the wonderful that dwells in the innermost of spirit. Beethoven's music moves the levers of fear, of shudder, of horror, of pain and thus awakens that infinite longing that is the essence of romanticism. Beethoven is a purely romantic composer (and therefore a truly musical) composer, and it may be because of it, that to him, vocal music that does not allow for the character of infinite longing,--but, through words, achieves certain affects, as they are not present in the realm of the infinite, is harder for him and that his instrumental music seldom attracts the multitudes. These multitudes that can not penetrate Beethoven's profound nature are the very ones who do not deny him a high degree of fantasy; in contrast to this, in his works, they only see the products of a genius who, oblivious of form and choice of ideas, relented to his fire and to the momentary inspirations of his fantasy. Nevertheless, he, with respect to reflection, is quite Haydn's and Mozart's equal. He separates his ego from the inner realm of music and reigns over it as its supreme master. Just as aesthetic nitpickers have often complained about a total lack of unity and inner cohesion in Shakespeare, and just as only a profound onlooker can see a beautiful tree, buds, leaves and fruits in a seed, thus also deep immersion into the inner structure of Beethoven's music will reveal that reflection of the master that is inseparable from this true genius and that is nourished by the continuing study of art. Deep in his innermost, Beethoven his carrying the romanticism of music that he expresses with a high genius and with a high degree of reflection in his music. The reviewer has never felt this more strongly than in the case of the symphony before him which, in a climax that gradually ascends up to its very end, unfolds Beethoven's romanticism more than any of his other works, and that irresistibly transports its listener into the miraculous, infinite realm of spirits.-- The first Allegro, 2/4 time in C minor, begins with a principal idea that consists of only two measures, and that, in the course of what follows, continually reappears in many different forms. In the second measure a fermata; then a repetition of this idea a tone lower, and again a fermata; both times only string instruments and clarinets. Even the key cannot yet be determined, the listener surmises E-flat major. The second begins the principal idea once again, and in the second measure the fundamental note of C, struck by the violoncello and bassoon, delineates the key of C minor, in which the viola and violin enter in imitation, until these finally juxtapose two measures with the principal idea, which, three times repeated (the final time with the entry of the full orchestra), and dying out in a fermata on the dominant, give to the listener's soul a presentiment of the unknown and the mysterious. The beginning of the Allegro, up to this point of rest, determines the character of the entire piece and for this reason the reviewer inserts it here for his readers to examine:
After this fermata, the violins and violas imitate the principal idea, remaining in the tonic, while the bass now and then strikes a figure that resembles that idea. A constantly mounting transitional passage, which once again arouses that presentiment, even stronger and more urgently than before, then leads to a tutti the theme of which once again has the rhythmic content of the principal idea and is intimately related to it:
The sixth chord based on D prepares the related major key of E-flat, in which the horn once again recalls the principal idea. The first violin takes up a second theme, which is certainly melodious, but still remains true to the character of that anxious, restless longing that the whole movement expresses. The violin carries this theme forward in alternation with the clarinet, and each time in the third measure the bass strikes that first mentioned recollection of the principal idea, by means of which this theme is again completely interlaced into the artistic web of the whole. In the further extension of this theme, the first violin and the violoncello repeat five times, in the key of E-flat minor, a figure that consists of only two measures, while the basses climb chromatically upward, until at last a new transitional passage leads to the conclusion, in which the wind instruments repeat the first tutti in E-flat major, and finally the full orchestra closes in E-flat major with the often mentioned recollection of the principal theme. The principal theme once again begins the second part in its initial form, only transposed a third higher and played by the clarinets and horns. The phrases of the first part follow in F minor, C minor, G minor, only differently arranged and orchestrated, until at last, after a transition once again made up of only two measures, which the violins and the wind instruments take up in alternation, while the violoncellos play a figure in contrary motion and the basses climb upwards, the following chords enter in the full orchestra:
They are sounds, by means of which the breast, oppressed and alarmed by presentiments of the gigantic, vents itself powerfully, and like a friendly form, which radiantly illuminating the deep night moves through the clouds, a theme now enters that was only touched upon by the horn in E-flat major at the 58th measure of the first part. First in G major, then in C major, the violins play this theme alla 8va, while the basses play an upward-climbing figure that somewhat recalls the tutti passage that began at the 44th measure of the first part.
The wind instruments begin this theme fortissimo in F minor, but after the third measure, the string instruments take up the two final measures, and, imitating these measures, string and wind instruments alternate yet another five times and then strike individual chords, always diminuendo and once again in alternation.
After the sixth chord [note sample] the reviewer would have expected G-flat major in the chord progression that followed, which then, in the manner in which things are done here, would lead back to G major, having been enharmonically transformed into F-sharp minor. The wind instruments, however, which strike the chord that follows that sixth chord, are written:
Clarinetti [Note Sample
Fagotti. Immediately thereafter, the string instruments strike this F-sharp minor chord [note sample] which is then repeated for four measures alternately by strings and wind instruments. The chords of the wind instruments are always written as was indicated above, for no reason that the reviewer can perceive. The sixth chord [note sample] now likewise follows, ever weaker and weaker. This has an unsettling and terrifying effect!-- The full orchestra now strikes up a theme that is almost identical to that which was heard forty-one measures earlier, while only the flutes and trumpets hold the dominant, D. This theme, however, comes to rest after only four measures, and the string instruments and horns, and then the remaining wind instruments, strike the diminished chord [note sample] pianissimo seven times in alternation. In the next measure the basses then take up the first principal idea for two measures, with the remaining instruments unisono. Bass and upper voices imitate each other in this manner through five measures, followed by three measures in unison, and in the fourth measure, the full orchestra, with trumpets and drums, sounds the principal theme in its original form. The first part is now repeated with minor variations, the theme that first began in E-flat major now appears in C major and leads to a triumphant close in C major with trumpets and drums. This very conclusion, however, turns the music into F minor [note sample]. Through five measures of full orchestra on the chord, clarinets, bassoons, and horns strike, piano, an imitation of the principal idea. One measure of general pause, then for six measures [note sample] all the wind instruments resume as before; and now the violas, violoncellos, and bassoons take up a theme that was heard previously in the second part in G major, while the violins, entering unisono in the third measure, perform a new countersubject. The music now remains in C minor, and, with small variations, the theme, that began in measure 71 of the first part is repeated first by the violins alone, and then in alternation with the wind instruments. The alternations become ever closer and closer, first one measure, than a half measure; it is a thriving urgency--a surging storm, the waves of which strike higher and higher--until finally, twenty-four measures before the end, the beginning of the Allegro is repeated once again. There follows an organ point over which the theme is imitated until, at last, the final conclusion follows strongly and powerfully.--
There is no simpler idea than that which the master laid as the foundation of this entire Allegro [note sample] and one realizes with wonder how he was able to align all the secondary ideas, all the transitional passages with the rhythmic content of this simple theme in such a way that they continually served to unfold the character of the whole, which the theme could only suggest. All phrases are short, consisting of only two or three measures, and are divided up even further in the ongoing exchange between the string and the wind instruments. One might believe that from such elements only something disjointed and difficult to comprehend could arise; nevertheless, it is precisely this arrangement of the whole, as well as the repetitions of the short phrases and individual chords that follow continually upon one another, which hold the spirit firmly in an un-nameable longing.--Completely apart from the fact that the contrapuntal treatment shows deep study of the art, it is also the transitional passages and the continual references to the principal theme that show how the master did not simply conceive the whole, with all its characteristic features, in his mind, but thought it through as well.--
Like a charming spirit voice, which fills our breast with comfort and hope, sounds next the lovely (and yet meaningful) theme of the Andante in A-flat major, 3/8 time, which is performed by the viola and violoncello. The further development of the Andante recalls numerous middle movements from Haydn's symphonies, inasmuch as, just as frequently happens there, the principal theme is varied in many different ways, after interjected transitional phrases. It cannot be equated with the first Allegro in terms of originality, although the idea of continually interrupting the transitions back to A-flat major, by allowing an imposing phrase in C major with trumpets and drums to intervene, produces a striking effect. The transition to C major occurs twice in the midst of enharmonic exchanges:
whereupon the grandiose theme enters and then the modulation to the dominant chord of A-flat major is completed in the following manner:
In a simpler, but very effective way, the flutes, oboes and clarinets prepare for the third transition to this C major theme:
Oboe, [Note sample]
All the phrases of the Andante are very melodious, and the principal theme is even beguiling, but the very progress of this theme, which goes through A-flat major, B-flat minor, F minor, and B-flat minor before first returning to A-flat, the continual juxtaposition of the major tonalities A-flat and C, the chromatic modulations, express once again the character of the whole, and by virtue of this the Andante is part of that whole. It is as if the frightful spirit, which in the Allegro gripped and unsettled the soul, were to step forth and threaten every moment from the storm clouds into which it had disappeared, and the friendly forms that had surrounded us comfortingly were to flee quickly from its sight.
[The conclusion will follow.]" (AMZ July 1810: columns 630 - 642].
"R E V I E W .
Beethoven's Symphony No. 5.
(Conclusion from No. 40)
The Minuet that follows the Andante is once again as original, as gripping to the listener's soul, as one might expect from this master in the composition of that part of the symphony that, according to the example of Haydn, which he was following, should be the most piquant and ingenious of all. It is primarily the distinctive modulations, closes to the dominant-major chord, whose bass note is taken up by the bass as the tonic of the following theme in minor--the theme itself, which always extends itself by only a few measures, that strongly express the character of Beethoven's music, as the reviewer has described it above, and arouse anew that restlessness, that presentiment of the wonderful spirit kingdom with which the phrases of the Allegro assailed the listener's soul. The theme in C minor, played by the basses alone, turns in the third measure toward G minor, the horns sustain the G, and the violins and violas, joined in the second measure by the bassoons, and then by the clarinets, perform a four-measure phrase that cadences in G. The basses now repeat the theme, but after the B minor of the third measure, it turns into D minor and then to C minor, where the violin phrase is repeated. The horns now perform a phrase that leads into E-flat major, while the string instruments strike chords in quarter notes at the beginning of each measure. The orchestra, however, leads the music farther, into E-flat minor, and closes on the dominant, B-flat major. In the same measure, however, the bass begins the principal theme and performs it just as at the beginning in C minor, only now it is in B-flat minor [measure 53]. The violins, etc., too, repeat their own phrases, and there follows a point of rest in F major. The bass repeats the same theme, extending it, however, going through F minor, C minor, G minor, and then returning to C minor, whereupon the tutti, which first appeared in E-flat minor, leads through F minor to a C major chord. However, just as it went before from B-flat major to B-flat minor, the bass now takes up the bass note C as tonic of the theme in C minor [measure 96]. Flutes and oboes, imitated by the clarinets in the second measure, now take up the phrase that was first performed by the string instruments, while these repeatedly strike a single measure from the previously mentioned tutti; the horns sustain the G, the violoncellos begin a new theme, which is connected first to a further development of the violins' opening phrase, then to a new phrase in eighth notes [which had not yet been heard]. Even the new theme of the violoncellos contains allusions to the principal phrase and is thereby intimately related to it, as it is also through the similar rhythm. After a brief repetition of the tutti, this section of the minuet concludes fortissimo in C minor with trumpets and drums. The second part [the trip] is begun by the basses with a theme in C minor, which is imitated fugally by the violas in the dominant, then by the second violin in a shortened form, and then similarly shortened by the first violins. The first half of this part closes in G major. In the second part, the basses begin the theme twice and stop again, continuing forward the third time. To many this may seem humorous, but in the reviewer it awakened an uncanny feeling.-- After much imitation of the principal theme, it is taken up by the flutes, supported by oboes, clarinets, and bassoons, over the bass note G, which is sustained by the horns, and it dies out in individual notes, which are struck first by the clarinets and bassoons and then by the basses. Now follows the repetition of the theme of the first part by the basses; in place of the violins the wind instruments have the phrase now in short notes, concluding it with a point of rest. Hereupon follows, as in the first part, the extended principal phrase, but in place of the half notes there are now quarter notes, and quarter-note rests. In this form, and for the most part abbreviated, the other phrases of the first part also return.-- The restless longing, which the theme carried within itself, is now raised to the point of anxiety, which presses powerfully upon the breast so that only individual, broken sounds can escape from it. The G-major chord seems to point to the conclusion, but the bass now sustains the bass note A-flat pianissimo through fifteen measures [measures 324 ff], and violins and violas likewise sustain the third, C, while the kettledrum strikes the C, first in the rhythm of that often mentioned tutti, then for four measures once in each measure, then for four measures twice, and then in quarter notes. The first violin finally takes up the first theme and leads through twenty-eight measures in which this theme is continually heard, up to the seventh of the dominant of the fundamental note. The second violins and the violas have sustained the C continually with the kettledrum playing the C in quarter notes; the bass, however, after having run through the scale from A-flat to F-sharp and back to A-flat, has struck the fundamental note G. Now enter first the bassoons, then one measure later the oboes, then three measures later the flutes, horns, and trumpets, while the kettledrum continually strikes the C in eighth notes, whereupon the music goes directly into the C-major chord, whereupon the final Allegro begins.-- The reason why the master continued the dissonant C of the kettledrum up to the conclusion is clarified by the character that he was striving to give to the whole. The heavy strokes of this dissonance, sounding like a strange, frightening voice, excite terror of the extraordinary--the fear of spirits. The reviewer has already mentioned somewhat earlier the mounting effect produced by the theme being extended for several measures, and in order to make this effect even more vivid, he will place these extensions together, here:
At the repetition of the first part, this phrase appears in the following manner:
Just as simple, and yet, when it reappears in later passages, just as gripping in its effect as the theme of the first Allegro, is the idea with which the tutti of the minuet begins.
The full orchestra, to which piccolos, trombones, and contrabassoons are now added, enters with the splendid, triumphant theme of the concluding movement, in C major--like radiant, blinding sunshine that suddenly illuminates the deep night. The phrases of this Allegro are treated more broadly than those that came before. They are not so much melodious as they are powerful, and suited to contrapuntal imitation. The modulations are unaffected and understandable; the first part has, for the most part, almost the feeling of an overture. Throughout thirty-four measures this part remains a tutti of the full orchestra in C major; then, to the accompaniment of a powerful, rising figure in the bass, a new theme in the upper voices modulates to G major and leads to the dominant chord of this key. Now begins yet another theme, consisting of quarter notes separated by triplets, which, in regard to its rhythm and its character, departs completely from what has gone before, and once again urges and impels like the phrases of the first Allegro or of the minuet:
Through this theme and through its further working-out through A minor toward C major, the soul is once again placed into a mood of foreboding, which had momentarily departed from it during the jubilation and rejoicing. With a short, rushing tutti the music turns once again to G major, and violas, bassoons, and clarinets begin a theme in sixths [measures 64 ff], which is later taken up by the entire orchestra, and, after a short modulation to F minor, the first part concludes in C major with a powerful bass figure, which is then taken up by the violins in C major and then again by the basses al rovescio. The figure just mentioned is continued at the beginning of the second part in A minor, and that characteristic theme consisting of quarter notes and triplets enters once again. In shortened and restricted forms, this theme is now extended through thirty-four measures, and in the course of this working-out, the character that was already expressed in its original form, is thoroughly worked out, to which no small contribution is made by the secondary phrases that are mixed in, in the sustained tones of the trombones, and the triplet strokes in the kettledrums, trumpets, and horns. The music at last comes to rest on an organ point G [measure 132 ff], which is struck first by the basses, and then by the bass trombones, trumpets, horns, and kettledrums, while the basses are performing a concluding figure unisono with the violins [measures 132 ff]. Now, for the length of fifty-four measures, this simple theme from the minuet returns [note sample] and there follows, in the two concluding measures, the transition from the minuet to the Allegro, only in a shorter from than before. With minor variations, and remaining in the principal key, the phrases of the first part now return, and a rushing tutti seems to lead to the conclusion. After the dominant chord, however, the bassoons, horns, flutes, oboes, and clarinets take up this theme, which was first only touched upon, one after another [measures 317 ff] [note sample]. There follows yet another concluding phrase, the strings take up this phrase anew, after which it is played by the oboes, clarinets, and horns, and then again by the violins. The end seems near once again, but with the concluding chord in the tonic the violins take up, Presto [a piu stretto begun several measures earlier], the phrase that was first heart at measure 64 of the Allegro, while the bass figure is the same one that they struck up in measure 28 of the first Allegro, and that, as has often been remarked above, is closely related to the principal theme through its rhythm, and strongly recalls it. The full orchestra [the basses enter a measure later, imitating the upper voice] canonically leads with the first theme of the last Allegro to the conclusion, which, shored up by many splendid, jubilant figures, follows after forty-one measures. The concluding chords themselves are written in a unique way; namely, after the chord that the listener takes for the last comes a measure rest, the same chord, a measure rest, once again the chord, a measure rest, then the same chord in quarter notes once every measure for three measures, a measure rest, the chord, a measure rest, and then C unisono struck by the entire orchestra. The perfect calm of the soul, brought about by various cadential figures following one after another, is abolished by these individual chords, struck between pauses, which recall the individual strokes in the Allegro of the symphony, and the listener is made eager anew by the final chords. They are like a fire, which was believed to have been put out, and which continually strikes out into the heights again in brightly blazing flames.
Beethoven has retained the customary succession of movements in the symphony. They appear to be put together in a fantastic way, and the whole rushes past many people like an inspired rhapsody; but the soul of every sensitive listener will certainly be deeply and closely gripped by a lingering feeling, which is precisely that un-nameable, foreboding longing, and sustained in it until the final chord. Indeed, for many more moments after it, he will not be able to depart from the wonderful spirit kingdom, where pain and joy surrounded him in musical form. Apart from the inner construction, the instrumentation, etc., it is primarily the intimate relationship that the individual themes have to one another that produces that unity that holds the listener's soul firmly in a single mood. In Haydn's and in Mozart's music, this unity dominates everywhere. It becomes clearer to the musician when he then discovers a fundamental bass that is common to two different passages, or when the connection between two passages reveals it; but a deeper relationship, which cannot be demonstrated in this manner, is often only expressed from the spirit to the spirit, and it is this relationship that prevails among the passages of both Allegros and of the minuet, and magnificently announces the master's presence of mind and genius. The reviewer believes that he can bring together his judgment about this magnificent work of art in a few words when he says that, ingeniously conceived and worked out with deep presence of mind, it expresses musical romanticism to a very high degree.--
No instrument has difficult passagework to perform, but only an orchestra that is extraordinarily confident, practiced, and inspired by a single spirit, can venture to perform this symphony; for each moment that is in the least bit inadequate will spoil the whole irreparably. The continuous alternations, the exchanges between the string and wind instruments, the chords that are to be struck individually after rests, and so forth, demand the highest precision, on account of which the conductor should also be advised not, as often does occur, to play along more loudly than is appropriate with the first violins, but much rather to hold the whole orchestra constantly in his eye and hand. The first violin part is useful for this purpose, as it contains the entries of the obbligato instruments within itself.-- The engraving is correct and clear. The same publisher has released this same symphony in an arrangement for pianoforte four-hands under the title
Cinquieme Sinfonie des Louis van Beethoven, arrangee pour le Pianoforte a quatre mains. Chez Breikopf et
Härtel a Leipsic. (Pr. 2 Rthlr. 12 Gr.).
The reviewer is not otherwise much in favor of arrangements; nevertheless, it cannot be denied that the enjoyment of a masterwork, which one hears with the full orchestra, often excites the imagination as much as before in a lonely room, and sets the soul in the same mood. The pianoforte produces the great work like a sketch does a great painting, which the imagination enlivens with the colors of the original. What is more, the symphony has been arranged for the pianoforte with understanding and insight, so that the necessities of the instrument are taken appropriately into account without obscuring the peculiarities of the original" [AMZ July 1810, columns 652 -659].
With respect to the further fate of this symphony during Beethoven's lifetime, TF still reports:
* In the chapter to the year 1812 (p. 527) it is reported that the Prometheus Ouverture and the Symphony in c minor were performed at Schuppanzigh's Augarten concert on May 5th.
* In the chapter to the year 1813 (p. 557-8) TF reports that on May 27th, Beethoven wrote to Varenna in Graz and sent him three choruses, a bass aria from the Ruins of Athens, a march and two symphonies [for Graz benefit concerts]. The two symphonies were the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies.
* In the chapter to the year 1820 (p. 770) TF reports of the performance of the Symphony in c minor and of a chorus from Christ on the Mount of Olives on April 9th.
After we have already become familiar with some musical aspects of this symphony through E.T.A. Hoffmann's review, let us, for the description of its content, refer to a more contemporary author.
ON ITS MUSICAL CONTENT
Lewis Lockwood's description of this symphony is very suitable for this purpose:
"In even this brief appraisal, a few further points demand attention. One is the dramatic consistency of the first movement, arising not only from its extremely limited harmonic range. The exposition leads in normal ways from the key of C minor to its relative major, E-flat, for the lyrical second theme (below which the opening motif continues). But in the development the basic harmonic range of the whole section is astonishingly restricted, and major-mode harmonies, even as chords, scarcely appear. The tension of the first movement emerges in part from the contrasting roles of two harmonic poles: C minor, the key of the movement, and F minor, its close neighbor. The first movement limits its harmonic content primarily to elements of these chords, making only the most sparing use of G major, the dominant of C minor. The primary harmonic scheme of the entire first movement can be summarized as follows:
1. Exposition 2. Development 3. Recapitulation and Coda
C minor F minor F minor C minor
E-flat major C minor (unstable) C major
G minor G major (brief) C minor
C minor F minor
That the harmonic plan of the development remains so rigorously in minor keys, and within a narrow band of these (witness the symmetry of the motion from F minor to C minor back to F minor) is new in Beethoven. G minor is reached as a midpoint in the cycle of minor keys moving by fifths, then returns to the more important F minor. The stress on F minor emerges in its use as the main tonality for the development and as part of the harmony from which the development springs back to C minor for the recapitulation and the return of the opening.
The Andante, consolation after tragedy, explores another range of feelings, just as it explores another range of tonal relationships. Choosing the key of A-flat major to follow a movement in C minor is a favorite scheme of Beethoven's, one he had used in such earlier C-minor works at the "Pathetique" Sonata and the Violin Sonata Opus 30 No. 2. The movement begins by recalling a slow-movement model that Haydn had perfected: variations on two alternating subjects, as in his Symphony No. 103, the "Drummroll." Beethoven starts as if he were going to proceed in the same way, and the dialectic of two basic themes soon emerges. The first is an intricate piano dolce in A-flat major that conceals a rising C-major triad within its coils and ends with extended cadential figures in strings and winds. This section is followed by a vigorous contrasting theme that rises from A-flat major to explode fortissimo in C major, setting the stage for a massive statement of the theme in C major and forcing us to realize that the basic rhythm of this theme, apart from its upbeats, is the 3 + 1 rhythm of the first movement.
From here on matters unfold in two ways: (1) through alternating variations on the first and second themes and then strangely altered extensions of both themes; and (2) through comparable extension of the second theme, leading to still another development of the first theme. A lengthy coda rounds out the whole and brings the traveler, the first theme, home to its A-flat major. The implicit conflict between the two themes has finally been resolved. As a whole, the slow movement picks up from the finale of the Eroica the ideas of a variations movement that transforms its more rigid classical model (theme and chain of variations, each variation a closed total unit) into a more plastic form. Beethoven's freedom of formal disposition would prove as significant for the history of the symphonic slow movement as the Eroica fourth movement had been for the history of the symphonic finale.
The Scherzo offers contrasts that are somewhat similar to those of the slow movement in that they derive from extreme differences its character between Scherzo and Trio, even more marked than in most of Beethoven's earlier third movements. The pianissimo Scherzo theme, marked misterioso, explored the C-minor chord rising through an octave and a half, a shape we can trace back as far as the E-flat minor first movement of his youthful Piano Quartet of 1785. The Scherzo then contrasts this figure with the famous "motto" (3 + 1) from the first movement, which gradually takes command of the whole movement. The Trio brings a boisterous C-major fugato in the strings, develops it in its second section, then finds new means to articulate it in the reprise. The return of the Scherzo is no mere repetition: it is a mysterious echo of the Scherzo, another "strange voice" in a Scherzo movement, with the opening theme now in pizzicato. It sets the stage for the famous Coda that will lead through a crescendo to the powerful arrival of the Finale.
The Finale, solidly in C major, crowns the work. It epitomizes all that is exultant, powerful, and wide ranging, capturing a spirit that Beethoven might have heard in some French postrevolutionary works but surpassing them in every respect. The opening theme, with its square rhythms and its basic rising triad and descending scale shape, displays the purest middle-period Beethoven thematic design. The C major of the whole movement picks up the many references to this tonality that had been heard earlier--in the first movement at the recapitulation of the second theme, in the slow movement, at the big second theme in the third movement, in the Trio--and gathers them all with a feeling of ultimate resolution. The triumphant tone of this movement spoke to generations of composers after Beethoven as the essence of an optimism that they could associate with Enlightenment ideals, and its way of ending offered a metaphor for the whole work as "a passage from darkness to light," as many have described it. What needs to be seen is that the "light," C major, has been gleaming distantly in the work since the recapitulation of the first movement, and that the finale, flooding the whole work with its C-major emphasis, is the summation of a process that has been unfolding since the first movement. Beethoven's decision here to end a minor-mode of work with a major-mode finale is in fact unusual, even for his C-minor works. His earlier four-movement cyclic works in minor mode had minor-mode finales, even if they ended with major harmonies (as in the third piano trio of Opus 1 and the String Quartet Opus 18 No. 4). After the Fifth Symphony the only works that have full major-mode finales after a minor-mode first movement are the two-movement Piano Sonatas Opus 90 and Opus 111, and the Ninth Symphony. Indeed, this key relationship is one of the ways in which the Fifth effectively foreshadows the Ninth and provides a first symphonic presentation of a darkened world that is at last relieved by triumph. A connection to Leonore also suggests itself, the more so because the dark F-minor tonality of Florestan in his dungeon is eventually illuminated by the broad daylight of C major, the key of his freeing by Leonore" [Lockwood: 221-224].
CONTEMPORARY MUSIC CRITICISM
Let us begin this section with Maynard Solomon's comment:
"The Fifth Symphony, because of its concentrated energy, its heroic stance, and, especially, the triumphal--even military--character of all of its movements save the scherzo, many have carried overtones of patriotic sentiment to Beethoven's contemporaries. It was completed precisely during the period which saw the upsurge of German patriotism--stimulated by the Treaty of Tilsit of July 7-9, 1807, which signaled the collapse of Prussia and the cession of all lands between the Rhine and the Elbe to France. The historian Roy Pascal noted that "the philosopher Fichte, the theologian Schleiermacher, poets and writers of all types, Kleist, Arndt, Görres, called on the Germans not to despair, to recall their great past, to hate the oppressor, to prepare for liberation," Beethoven and many of his friends and associates in Vienna echoed and contributed to this new patriotism. Both Prince Lobkowitz and Count Razumovsky, to whom the symphony was jointly dedicated, were ardent and active enemies of France. Beethoven's own patriotic and anti-French sentiments reached their height at this time. . . .
Beethoven himself, however, left no programmatic references that would link his Fifth Symphony to contemporary events. Indeed, his only such reported comment indicates that he may have connected the work with antique tragedy. Schindler claimed that Beethoven, in his presence, explained the opening bars of the first movement with the words: "Thus Fate knocks at the door!" Schenker doubted the story; he pointed to the same motif in the G-major Piano Concerto and asked: "Was this another door on which Fate knocked or was someone else knocking at the same door?" Of course this is wide of the mark, for though the four-note motif became one of Beethoven's "musical fingerprints" for a decade or more, it is never used twice for the same purpose and never in contexts remotely similar to those employed in the Fifth Symphony.
After some initial resistance to its unheralded rhythmic concentration, economy of thematic material, startling innovations--the little oboe cadenza in the first movement, the addition of piccolo and double bassoon to the winds, the "spectral" effects of the double basses in the scherzo and trio, the trombones in the finale, the return of the scherzo in finale--the Fifth Symphony came to be regarded as the quintessential Beethoven symphony, revealing new layers of meaning to each successive generation. Resistance to the symphony has stemmed from its monumental exterior (Goethe said, "It is merely astonishing and grandiose") and from the C-major "yea-saying" of the finale. Spohr found the last movement to be "unmeaning babel," and Berlioz acutely noted that the effect of the transition from the scherzo to the Allegro is so stunning that it would be impossible to surpass it in what follows. "To sustain such a height of effect is, in fact, already a prodigious effort." E.T.A. Hoffmann claimed the Symphony for Romanticism in 1810, but twentieth-century criticism has tended to see the Fifth as "the consummate example of symphonic logic," as the ultimate expression of Classic rationality refusing to yield to the violent tremors of impending Romanticism. Audiences have learned to identify the work with public virtues (the opening motif was a symbol of resistance to fascism during World War II), perhaps as a means of allaying the untranslatable and inexpressible terrors which this symphony arouses in every listener, despite Beethoven's C-major cathartic effects. Hoffmann and Goethe already sensed these terrors" [Solomon: 204-205].
After this historical overview, let us turn to Kinderman's comments:
"The climax of this immensely productive period of Beethoven's career is the contrasted pair of symphonies that he completed in 1808 and which were first performed at his musical Akademie in the Theater an der Wien on 22 December of that year. The Fifth and Sixth symphonies are not only sharply profiled individuals but are diametrically opposed to one another in conspicuous features of their structure and expression. Nevertheless, certain kinships between them are revealing: their points of similarity relate to aspect of the narrative design, as well as to style and character. Like the Waldstein and Appassionata sonatas, the Fifth and Sixth symphonies represent disparate musical worlds that ultimately complement one another. We need not choose between them, but can appreciate each more fully in the light of the opposing perspective embodied in its companion.
Whereas the C minor Symphony is perhaps the most goal-directed or teleological of all Beethvoven's works, the Pastoral Symphony in F major is remarkably relaxed, even passive. In the first movement of the Pastoral, Beethoven not only suppresses dissonance to a remarkable extent, but he nearly banishes the minor triad. The arrival at the recapitulation is treated in a soft, understated manner, through the subdominant. In the Development, extended passages are given over to repetitive figures on basic triadic harmonies, mere chords are thereby magnified into tonal regions. If the syntactical discourse of the musical language is flattened, Beethoven compensates the listener through his deliciously sensitive handling of orchestral sonority. The F major Symphony is a transparently sensuous score, in which rhythmic drive is largely suspended, held in reserve for moments of special import.
In its style and expression, the opening Allegro con brio of the Fifth Symphony is the opposite: propulsive rhythmic energy and relentless harmonic dissonance sustain it. In place of the broad expansion of sound of the Pastoral there is a terse concentration, with strong emphasis on dissonant diminished-seventh chords. Here, more than in his earlier C minor works, Beethoven gives voice to the Schillerian notion of resistance to suffering in a manner that only music can command. In the Fifth Symphony he enlarges this message across all four movements, which are welded into an even tighter and more cohesive narrative design than in the Eroica. . . . " [Kinderman: 122-123].
"In the Fifth Symphony this reflexive dimension is much more pronounced. In no other work did Beethoven achieve such a concentrated synthesis of successive movements. One aspect of this synthesis is the famous rhythmic motif of repeated notes and a falling thirds heard at the outset of the whole symphony. In the opening phrases Beethoven dramatizes the figure by pausing on the last notes of the motif, which momentarily holds back the full flood of the musical unfolding. Variants of this so-called 'fate' motif appear in later movements, most obviously in the insistent horn motifs of the scherzo. The motivic integration of the symphony also shapes many aspects of the thematic treatment, orchestration, and form. By combining the scherzo and finale into a compositive movement, Beethoven places an elemental polarity at the core of his formal conception. Another complementary relationship holds between the terse C minor idioms of the opening Allegro con brio, with its overpowering force and pathos, and the tremendous final Allegro in C major, whose presto coda accomplishes the seemingly impossible, firmly resolving the formidable tensions of the entire symphony into an elemental substratum of sound and time.
In the narrative design of the symphony, the slow variation movement in A-flat major represents both a lyrical diversion after the C minor pathos of the opening Allegro and a significant foreshadowing of the triumphant finale. The episodes of this Andante con moto turn repeatedly to C major with horns and trumpets, only then to withdraw mysteriously into a twilight of harmonic ambiguity. In his sketches Beethoven tried out a more straightforward anticipation of the C major finale, but settled on a solution that is more precariously balanced, suggesting the distant premonition of a goal that cannot yet be attained. The final cadence of this movement sounds unsettled; it stresses a short, ascending triadic fanfare drawn from the main theme, a figure that also presages the finale. Still another, more obvious link to the final movement is the trio of the scherzo, which employs thematic material in C major with a prominently rising contour. The pervasive ascending tendency of the music is reflected as well in the orchestration of the trio, which begins in the double basses and ends in the flute. The trio is an advance parody of the finale folded into the mocking, grotesque context of the C minor scherzo.
Beethoven originally intended to repeat the entire scherzo and trio, but the published version, without the repetition, is most effective in the overall narrative design. The scherzo thereby yields up some of its formal autonomy in the interest of the unfolding progression between movements. At the reprise of the scherzo its substance is transformed into shadowy accents, with hushed pizzicato strings and mysterious muted sounds in the winds. Then its dark humour fades into deeper obscurity as a cadence is reached in the low register in an extremely soft dynamic range, with the strings marked triple pianissimo. At this juncture we have reached a turning-point at the threshold of audibility.
What follows is one of the most celebrated transitions in all music. The timpani are heard on low C, softly tapping the motivic rhythm, before this figure is gradually transformed into a steady pulsation. This drum sound is enveloped by the strings; at the structural downbeat in bar 324 the cellos and basses settle onto a long-held A-flat, pushing the music into a mysterious deceptive cadence. When the strings now try to pick up the thread of the scherzo, they are stopped in their tracks after three bars . . . as if hypnotized on the falling intervals from the end of the fragment. Although the thematic fragment is dawn from the scherzo, its earlier temporal and formal context is completely suspended, opposing forces have come into play. The motivic scrap from the scherzo is quietly repeated over and over, and drifts higher and higher until it converges into the dominant-seventh chord for full orchestra that resolves to the emphatic beginning of the ensuing Allegro, marked by the first appearance of trombones in the symphony. The impact of the dominant seventh is enhanced by the mysteriously understated, yet logical and even inevitable quality of the transitional passage. The finale of the Fifth Symphony emerges suddenly, like a mirage in the desert. As it appears, however, the apparent mirage takes on the glaring force of reality, and exposes the desert as the illusion.
The finale of the Fifth absorbs something of the character of an éclat triomphal, with ties to French revolutionary music, and this accounts in part for the dismissive reaction of some of the older critics. Alexander Ulibischeff saw the coda of the finale as 'filled up with commonplaces of military music', Hermann Kretzschmar found the themes 'simple to the point of triviality,' the first movement already shows a striking parallel with Cherubini's Hymne du Panthéon, as Arnold Schmitz observed. The rich connotations of this music owe much less to such conventions, however, than to the gigantic, overreaching polarity of minor and major that embraces the whole symphony. Lawrence Kramer has rightly emphasized the relationship between the end of the first movement, with its vehement effect of minor conquering major, and the inverse process at the end of the finale, the positing of C major in a form 'that cannot be followed.' Beethoven reminds us of the conditional, and perhaps provisional, status of his triumphant final movement by recalling the scherzo in C minor in place of the development. The moment of recapitulation thus represents not merely a return of the exposition in the tonic key, but a reinterpretation of the entire intermovement transition. As the scherzo is recalled, the presence of the oboe harks back to the short expressive oboe cadenza at the recapitulation of the first movement, a moment of brief respite in the furious temporal drive of the Allegro con brio.
The presto coda leaves all doubts about a further relapse into the minor far behind by delivering the C major 'that cannot be followed'. Here, as in certain passages of the first movement of the Eroica, the rhythmic tension becomes so great as to flatten and almost obliterate the harmonic syntax; the movement ends with no fewer than 29 bars reiterating the tonic triad of C major, with no harmonic change whatsoever. Earlier in the coda Beethoven introduces extravagant touches in orchestration, including a high trill in the piccolo. Climax builds on climax, as the rising triadic theme of the Allegro is compressed into at least double time, generating an exciting linear ascent of an octave and a half from C to the highest G. This is the peak; the final phrases strive to repeat the ascent, but succeed only in reaching E, a third lower, The final chords are positioned with the mathematical precision of a gothic cathedral. There are three drops of three contained in the last 13 bars; the three chords of the example, separated by rests and containing the descent of the tenth from e to C, the next three chords, at the beginnings of bars 438-40; and the overlapping closing group of three chords, each set two bars apart. But superimposed on these groupings is a bigger pattern of rhythmic impulses four bars apart beginning in bar 436, 440, and 44, resonate as a larger embodiment of the same rhythm. This is the final, unsurpassable transformation and glorification of the motif that began the entire symphony.
The Fifth Symphony, like the Andante of the Fourth Concerto, embodies a process of symbolic transformation, which is projected with remarkable coherence over the work as a whole. Unifying motifs are almost inevitable in any such intermovement narrative design, but no less essential is the directional tension culminating in the finale--a feature that resurfaces in later masterpieces such as the Ninth Symphony and the C# minor Quartet. A shifting of weight to the finale occurs in certain eighteenth-century pieces--notably in Mozart's 'Jupiter' Symphony--but in Beethoven this tendency assumes such prominence as to realign the aesthetic foundations of music. In the Fifth Symphony Beethoven departs from the more static, successive classical formal models by explicitly connecting the movements, undermining their individual autonomy. A mythic pattern seems to be imposed on the overall artistic sequence, guiding the processive chain of interconnected musical forms. In its embrace of the dichotomous and its evocation of the ineffable or even the demonic, the Fifth Symphony opens the door to Romanticism, yet the profound lucidity of its musical shape defies unequivocal programmatic interpretation. In this respect, as in many others, Beethoven's importance lies in his synthesis of the old and new, of the universality of the classical harmonic framework with the quest for particularity of expression characteristic of the nineteenth century [Kinderman: 126-131].
After this, let us read Barry Cooper's brief comment:
"The mood of pathos and agitation implicit in the early sketches for the first movement is developed to an extraordinary degree in the final version. Although containing echoes of Haydn's 'Sturm und Drang' style, the atmosphere is reinforced by grand rhetorical gestures more characteristic of French rescue opera. Equally remarkable is the intensity of motivic development, with the initial four-note motif generating almost all that follows, including the second subject, which is closely related. During the development section, the second subject becomes pared down to two chords (bars 196 ff.) and eventually just one (bars 210 ff.). This point marks the ultimate in the thematic fragmentation process that characterizes so many development sections, for although only a single chord remains, it is still unmistakably motivic and continues to be developed. At this point, too, comes the ultimate in tonal digression, as the music moves into f sharp minor--as far as possible from the home key, thus providing the culmination of a tendency for increasingly remote tonal goals that had been a mark of many of Beethoven's recent sonata-form movements (E minor in the Eroica in E flat, and C sharp minor in the G major Piano Concerto, had provided notable landmarks along the route. Rarely had any work, by Beethoven or his predecessors, embodied such sustained emotional intensity throughout the movement, or such extreme motivic concentration and integration; and never before had these two features appeared together to this extent.
The extreme integration of the first movement demanded matching integration for the symphony as a whole--both motivic and emotional. Motivically the integration was achieved mainly through manipulation of the initial four-note motif in different guises in each of the remaining movements. In terms of rhetoric, unity was achieved through the construction of a kind of narrative, in which C major gradually increases in prominence in each movement until it ultimately overwhelms C minor. Particularly crucial in this process is the transition from the C minor third movement (too serious to be called a scherzo, though it often is) to the C major march of the finale. This transition, like many others, required a disproportionate amount of sketching. Initially no transition seems to have been planned, but the finale would have seemed too disconnected without some kind of link. Beethoven's customary desire for integration, and for increased weight on the finale as the culmination of all that had gone before, necessitated some link, as in several recent works (Opp. 53, 56, 57, 59 No. 3, and 61). Such a link would confirm the sense of progress from darkness to light, tragedy to joy, struggle to victory" [Cooper: 170-171].
Lockwood's look at the similarities between the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies might also be a good transition to the next section on Op. 68:
"Their similarities include the use of cumulative instrumentation. The Fifth adds three trombones, piccolo, and the contrabassoon in the Finale, widening the span of volume and pitch in the winds. In the Sixth, the first two movements use only the orchestral winds, strings, and horns but no trumpets or tympani; the Scherzo adds two trumpets, and the fourth movement (the Storm) adds a piccolo, two trombones, and tympani, keeping the trombones (though not the piccolo and tympani) for the quiet finale. In both works the final movements . . . are contiguous, moving without pause from one to the next. Both first movements employ 2/4 meter (the only two symphonies till now to do so), and both open with a short phrase that leads to a fermata on the dominant. The tempo of the slow movement in the Fifth is Andante con moto in 3/8 meter, that of the Sixth ("Scene by the brook") is Andante molto moto in 12/8. Incidentally, after the expressive Adagio of the Fourth Symphony, no later symphony until the Ninth has a slow movement that is really slow--they are all Andante or faster. As Beethoven increased the proportions and complexity of the symphonic slow movement, he apparently wished to ensure that its greater length would in some degree be compensated by its more active, faster tempo.
Yet despite these similarities, their differences mattered much more to Beethoven's contemporaries, as they still do to us. A basic generating idea behind the Fifth is that it should dramatize Beethoven's by-now famous "C-minor mood" in a new way. It is as if Beethoven shut down an invisible roof on his material in this first movement, subjecting it to an unprecedented state of compression, using the celebrated "motto" of the first two measures to bind the continuity of the whole, then deploying this motif in different guises for later movements. The dominating motto and the rhythmic and harmonic compression create the force behind the first movement, which unleashes a tragic power in the symphonic domain that audiences had not known before. Just as audiences in 1787 [Note of the web site author: here, it should read 1782, since Schiller's first drama, "Die Räuber" was first performed at the Mannheim Nationaltheater on January 31, 1782] had been shaken by Schiller's Die Räuber, they were now shaken in somewhat the same way by Beethoven's Fifth" [Lockwood: 218-219;].
Cooper, Barry: Beethoven. (Master Musician Series, edited by Stanley Sadie). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Kinderman, William. Beethoven. Oxford + New York, Oxford University Press, 1997.
Ludwig van Beethoven. Briefwechsel Gesamtausgabe. [6 Bände] Im Auftrag des Beethoven-Hauses Bonn herausgegeben von Sieghard Brandenburg. München: 1996, G. Henle Verlag.
Solomon, Maynard. Beethoven. New York: Schirmer Books, Paperback Edition 1979.
Thayer's Life of Beethoven, edited by Elliott Forbes. Princeton, New Jersey Princeton University Press, 1964.