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Home>Beethoven Music>Beethoven Symphonies>Symphony No.1

Symphony No. 1

Symphony no. 1, in C major, op. 21 seems simple at first sight, even too simple if we compare it to his last symphony. Remarkable in this sense are Robert Schumann’s reflections written three years after the composition of this symphony, reflections triggered by the listening of Symphony No.IX: " Love him, love him truly, but do not forget that he reached poetic freedom after thorough study, years on end, and praise his restless moral power. Do not seek to extract the unusual, go back to the roots of creation, demonstrate his genius not through his last symphony (…), you can do this just as well through his first symphony."
      Even if this work marked the debut of a composer in a genre that appealed to him, it did not bring anything radically new, if we consider the creations that the world had admired up to that point. One of that time’s commentators observed: "If we now see only the claw which harbingers the appearance of the lion, it is because the lion found it wiser not to attack just yet."

Part I - Adagio molto – starts with a slow introduction, of great luminosity and lyricism, followed by the two themes in a sonata movement.

Part II – Andante cantabile con moto – is surprising because it is also constructed of two themes in the form of sonatas and its ending is a coda.

Part III – Menuetto, Allegro molto e vivace – strays from the minuet type of the Viennese symphonies, revealing a scherzo with a musical substance of maximum simplicity derived from thematic elements of the previous parts.

Part IV – Allegro molto e vivace – has a powerful Haydnian expression, but with significant thematic elements borrowed from the previous parts, thus revealing a complex form of sonata and becoming an ending for a symphonic cycle perfectly suitable for that period.

Mozart and his masterpieces had a great influence on Beethoven's early symphonies

The symphony is presented in first audition at a concert thrown for his benefit, at the Imperial Theatre in Vienna on April 2nd 1800, and dedicated to baron Gottfried van Swieten, director of the Imperial Library, intimate friend of Haydn and Mozart, and a few months later it is again presented at the Gewandhaus hall in Leipzig.
     This symphony, seen from all points of view, is a classical one, strongly anchored in the coordinates of the Viennese musical life, especially since Mozart’s last symphonies as well as those of Haydn had smitten the Viennese public, setting a certain standard that Beethoven will take into consideration.

Read more about all the other Beethoven symphonies

 Read more about Beethoven's music
  • The piano sonatas - Analysis of the sonata form and the most important Beethoven Piano Sonatas.
  • Trios - General discussion regarding Beethoven's trios for various instruments and ensembles.
  • Sonatas for Cello and Piano - Discussion about Beethoven's five cello and piano sonatas.
  • Sonatas for Violin and Piano - Overview of Beethoven's ten sonatas for violin and piano.
  • String Quartets - Brief analysis of Beethoven's seventeen string quartets.
  • The Opera "Fidelio" - The background, subject and influences of Beethoven's only opera.
  • The Concertos - Beethoven's five piano concertos, his violin concerto and triple concerto analyzed.
  • The Overtures - Brief overview of some of the most important Beethoven overtures.
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  Best 5 Beethoven Books on Amazon

1. Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris;

2. Beethoven by Maynard Solomon;

3. Beetoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood;

4. Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination by Maynard Solomon;

5. Beethoven as I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler;

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