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Gift Shop Shop Now. Back Log In. Log In. Back Explore. Back Visit. Back Video. Back Education. Back About. Back Support. Back Genres. Back Special Features. Back Programs. Back Plan Your Trip. Back Dine. Back The Venues. National Symphony Orchestra. Washington National Opera. The music starts with a wild outburst of energy but immediately crashes into a wall. Seconds later, Beethoven jolts us with another such sudden halt. The music draws up to a half-cadence on a G-major chord, short and crisp in the whole orchestra, except for the first violins, who hang on to their high C for an unmeasured length of time.
Forward motion resumes with a relentless pounding of eighth notes. The first movement is in the traditional sonata form that Beethoven inherited from his classical predecessors, Haydn and Mozart in which the main ideas that are introduced in the first few pages undergo elaborate development through many keys, with a dramatic return to the opening section—the recapitulation—about three-quarters of the way through. Following the first four bars, Beethoven uses imitations and sequences to expand the theme, these pithy imitations tumbling over each other with such rhythmic regularity that they appear to form a single, flowing melody.
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Shortly after, a very short fortissimo bridge, played by the horns, takes place before a second theme is introduced. This second theme is in E flat major, the relative major, and it is more lyrical, written piano and featuring the four-note motif in the string accompaniment. The codetta is again based on the four-note motif. The development section follows, including the bridge. During the recapitulation, there is a brief solo passage for oboe in quasi-improvisatory style, and the movement ends with a massive coda.
The movement opens with an announcement of its theme, a melody in unison by violas and cellos, with accompaniment by the double basses. A second theme soon follows, with a harmony provided by clarinets, bassoons, and violins, with a triplet arpeggio in the violas and bass.
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A variation of the first theme reasserts itself. This is followed up by a third theme, thirty-second notes in the violas and cellos with a counterphrase running in the flute, oboe, and bassoon. Following an interlude, the whole orchestra participates in a fortissimo, leading to a series of crescendos and a coda to close the movement.
The third movement is in ternary form, consisting of a scherzo and trio. It follows the traditional mold of Classical-era symphonic third movements, containing in sequence the main scherzo, a contrasting trio section, a return of the scherzo, and a coda. However, while the usual Classical symphonies employed a minuet and trio as their third movement, Beethoven chose to use the newer scherzo and trio form. The movement returns to the opening key of C minor and begins with the following theme, played by the cellos and double basses:.
The trio section is in C major and is written in a contrapuntal texture. When the scherzo returns for the final time, it is performed by the strings pizzicato and very quietly. The third movement is also notable for its transition to the fourth movement, widely considered one of the greatest musical transitions of all time. The fourth movement begins without pause from the transition.
The music resounds in C major, an unusual choice by the composer as a symphony that begins in C minor is expected to finish in that key. Many assert that every minor piece must end in the minor.
Symphony No.40 in G minor, K.550 (Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus)
The recapitulation is then introduced by a crescendo coming out of the last bars of the interpolated scherzo section, just as the same music was introduced at the opening of the movement. It is not known whether Beethoven was familiar with this work. The Fifth Symphony finale includes a very long coda, in which the main themes of the movement are played in temporally compressed form. Towards the end the tempo is increased to presto. The symphony ends with 29 bars of C major chords, played fortissimo.
Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K. (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
Spending much of his life in France, Cherubini employed this pattern consistently to close his overtures, which Beethoven knew well. While such resemblances sometimes occur by accident, this is unlikely to be so in the present case. Much has been written about the Fifth Symphony in books, scholarly articles, and program notes for live and recorded performances.
This section summarizes some themes that commonly appear in this material. The initial motif of the symphony has sometimes been credited with symbolic significance as a representation of Fate knocking at the door. Moreover, it is often commented that Schindler offered a highly romanticized view of the composer.
In his Omnibus television lecture series in , Leonard Bernstein has likened the Fate Motif to the four note coda common to classical symphonies. These notes would terminate the classical symphony as a musical coda, but for Beethoven they become a motif repeating throughout the work for a very different and dramatic effect, he says. Evaluations of these interpretations tend to be skeptical.
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Beethoven wrote a number of works in C minor whose character is broadly similar to that of the Fifth Symphony. Writer Charles Rosen says,. Beethoven in C minor has come to symbolize his artistic character. In every case, it reveals Beethoven as Hero.