Essay: Beethoven the Great Symphonist

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BEETHOVEN

THE GREAT SYMPHONIST

In the words of John P. Blackburn, Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770 to 1827) "was a pivotal musical genius who played one of the most important roles in the evolution of Western music than any other composer in history" (87), with Johann Sebastian Bach being the exception. Undoubtedly, Beethoven stood at the crossroads of Western music and single-handedly changed older classical forms into new avenues of expression, especially with his piano compositions and symphonies and as a composer of some of the most brilliant and beautiful music ever put on paper, Beethoven was responsible for completely transforming a musician's ability to express the entire range of human emotions via a musical instrument, particularly when brought together in the form of a symphonic orchestra.

Although Beethoven's musical repertory covers a vast amount of different styles, themes and genres, it is his magnificent symphonies that remain the most complex and endearing to all lovers of classical music. In 1802, while attempting to endure the continuing loss of his hearing, Beethoven composed his Eroica Symphony (no. 3) and Symphony no. 5 in which "the somber mood of the c Minor first movement... ultimately yields to a triumphant C Major finale with piccolo, trombones and percussion added to the orchestra" (Ludwig Van Beethoven," Internet). By 1805, Beethoven had composed his Pastoral Symphony (no. 6) which "conjures up his feelings about the countryside which he loved," Symphony no. 7, and Symphony no. 8 and between 1822 and 1824, Beethoven composed his most famous piece known as Choral or Symphony no. 9, Op. 125 with its familiar opening line in d Minor ("Ludwig Van Beethoven," Internet).

Most Western music scholars agree that Beethoven's musical output hit a high point between the creation of the Second Symphony and his E-flat Symphony, opus 55, also known as Eroica which exhibits "rare nobility and grandeur and stands as a musical milestone when the symphonic form came into its own" at the hands of Beethoven (Morrison, 165). This symphony was originally to be called the "Bonaparte Symphony," due to Beethoven seeing Napoleon Bonaparte as a true liberator of the people and the instigator of the French Revolution. As a piece of music designed for the pleasure of an audience, Eroica offered to the public "a radically new creation that was part symphony and part oratorio, a hybrid that proved puzzling to his less daring observers" and listeners of the time ("Ludwig Van Beethoven," Internet).

This symphony premiered in the city of Vienna, Austria on April 7th, 1805 and in 1809, Beethoven himself conducted the work at a charity concert at the Theatre an der Wien. Most certainly, the audience at… [END OF PREVIEW]

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