Beethoven 9th Symphony

Ludwig van Beethoven, great music composer, born in December 17, 1770 in Bonn Germany, and died in March 26, 1827 in Vienna. He was interested in music at a very young age. He grew up in a family where his father was a musician but he had drinking problem, and his mother was gentle loving care person. Beethoven claimed his mother as his best friend. When Beethoven took interest in music, his father taught him music day and night and how to play an instrument. He gave his first concert when he was 6 years old.

Without a doubt, the child was gifted and his father Johann envisioned creating a new Mozart, a child prodigy. The musical and teaching talents of Johann were limited therefore, he hired teachers and musicians; composition by renowned musician such as Gottlob Neefe.

In 1782, before the age of 12, Beethoven published his first work, 9 Variations in C Minor for piano on a march by Earnst Christoph Dressler. The following year, in 1783, Neefe wrote in the Magazine of Music, about his student. “If he continues like this, he will be, without a doubt, the new Mozart.” His mom passed away on July 17th 1787 only five year after this. Beethoven felt that he was responsible of his two brothers because of irresponsible drunk father.

He started earning money by playing instrument in orchestra and giving music lessons. In 1792, Beethoven start working under Austrian wonderful composer Joseph Hyden in Vienna. By the 1800’s his compositions established him Mozart successor. He had an amazing currier as composer and pianist. He composed, he wrote music for himself. Sadly, when he started to lose his hearing his musical style changed but still he created some of his amazing masterpieces. From 1802 to 1814 he composed some masterpieces like Appassionata Sonata, and his only opera Fidelio.

In 1815 when his brother died he had to adopt his brother’s son and dealing with all the legal matters affected his work to slow down tremendously. His nephew wasn’t talented in music like himself as he hoped for. Unfortunately, by 1819 he was completely deaf but his composing was not at all. He composed quite of few symphonies including his 9th symphony after losing his hearing. The only difference was he start to compose for others.

Beethoven’s 9th symphony 4th movement is very important because it is the longest (over 1 hour), and the largest (by instrumentation) symphony ever written at its time, and still today one of the longest ever. It took Beethoven to complete six years to finish the symphony and it was finished in 1824. It is famously known as “Ode to Joy”. It premiered on Friday, May 7, in the Karntnerthortheater in Vienna. Another important fact about Symphony No 9th and 4th movement is Beethoven was the first composer to include the human voice at the same level as the instruments.

Beethoven had long been completely deaf when he composed it, but still conducted the premiere performance back then. When the piece ended, Beethoven, being deaf, was still conducting, the soprano soloist turned him around to accept his applause. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” was adopted as the European National Anthem in 1972. It’s text written by An Die Freude.

Instrumentation for the symphony was the largest of back then. The performing forces required and how they are used Beethoven’s 9th symphony 4th movement has the largest forces by instrumentation at its time and still to this day it is the longest symphony.

Orchestra had these forces: Woodwinds are; Piccolo (fourth movement only), 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets in A, B-flat and C, 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon (fourth movement only). Brass: 2 Horns (1 and 2) in D and B-flat, 2 Horns (3 and 4) in B-flat (bass), B-flat and E-flat, 2 Trumpets in D and B-flat, 3 Trombones (alto, tenor, and bass; fourth movements only).

Percussion: Timpani, Bass drum (fourth movement only), Triangle (fourth movement only), Cymbals (fourth movement only). Voices ( fourth movement only); Soprano solo, Alto solo, Tenor solo, Baritone solo, SATB Choir (Tenor briefly divides). Strings; Violins I, II, Violas, Cellos, Double basses.

Beethoven’s original idea was to make 9th symphony instrumental but his desire to put human voice into the symphony did not come until the fourth movement. As to the finale he had sketched an instrumental fourth Movement that he decided to gratify his lifelong desire to set Schiller’s Ode to Joy to music. Beethoven selected only certain verses from Schiller’s Ode, and even altered the order of these, thus affirming his right to exercise his own judgment and single out only that which suited his. It had no less than three different choral groups combine into one fiercely profound powerhouse of sound.

There was a conflict about the form of Beethoven’s final movement on 9th symphony. He found it difficult to suddenly introduce a chorus of voices after a long instrumental symphony; it was simply out of place.

Briefly, the movement begins with an outraged, confused, flurry of sound; then a restatement of the prior three movements, each interrupted and rejected by instrumental recitative. If we go little bit more in detail; in the beginning flurry of instruments (dissonant too) than the cellos and basses play dramatic recitative. It follows themes from the three prior movements’ plays but quickly basses and cellos interrupts. Now, new theme begins but hesitant.

Again, minor protest from the bases and cellos. Other instruments join in, which lead to a triumphant statement of the theme in D Major. Beethoven replays the opening of the finale. This time, though, the human voice replaces the cello and basses. The human voice is solo baritone voice. Then exquisite choral-orchestral exposition on Schiller’s Ode to Joy engages in four stanzas. Then Turkish March takes the lead like hero marching to victory. This march then leads to a long orchestral interlude, then to a fugue on two themes. This leads to a an overpowering full orchestral-choral development.

A display of the male and female choruses is sung in an almost meditative, prayer-like way, starting from Seid umschlungen Millionen!, or Be embraced, all ye Millions! As for the ending, I think David Wright puts it the right way; ponders the mystery and beauty of divine grace. Then everybody goes all-out to the joyous and thrilling close.”