|1824||Ludwig van Beethoven||Symphony No. 9 in D,|
|Instrumentation||Strings, 2 flutes (plus piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons (plus contrabassoon), 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani and percussion, choir, four vocal soloists.|
|Movements||I: Allegro (d) II: Scherzo: molto vivace (d) III: Adagio molto e cantabile (Bb) IV: Allegro – Andante – Allegro (d/D)|
|Overview||Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is one of the most famous and influential symphonies of all time. From its mysterious tremolo opening on bare fifths to the introduction of a choir in the final movement, this piece is full of innovation that both inspired and challenged subsequent generations of composers. It was Beethoven’s last completed symphony (he started a tenth) and set a yardstick by which many later composers judged their own efforts.
Listen to the opening of the symphony:
|E) 4th / Finale||The drama of this symphony is heightened in the last movement, which starts with an aggressive brass and woodwind fortissimo that has been described as a shriek of pain. Beethoven then goes on to quote from previous movements (interspersed with a monophonic idea on cellos and basses that is marked to be played with a character of a recitative).
The cellos then introduce a simple melody that has become one of the most famous in Classical music – the Ode to Joy theme, which is the anthem of the European Union:
The music becomes increasingly complex and polyphonic before the shriek from the beginning returns and Wagner, among other, interpreted this as a rejection of traditional symphonic development as a way of continuing this movement. After the return of the opening shriek there is a dramatic intervention by a solo voice singing the following words:
Oh friends, not these tones!
The ode to joy is then set for the soloists and chorus:
After many twists and turns the movement ends in a blaze of D major choral and orchestral glory:
This movement displays several features that had begun to develop in Haydn and earlier Beethoven and would become very important to Romantic composers: