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PostSubject: ARTS CHAMBER   Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:58 pm

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Like Monteverdi, who bridges the Renaissance and the Baroque, Beethoven stands
between two eras, not fully encompassed by either. He inherited the Classical style
through Mozart and Haydn, and this is represented in works from what is typically called
his “first period” (to about 1800), during which time Beethoven performed actively as a
virtuoso pianist. The “middle period” (about 1800 to 1818) saw Beethoven break
through the classical templates as he wrestled with his increasing deafness, the growing
inability to perform or conduct, and his disillusion with Napoleon, whom he had
considered a hero of the French Revolution until Napoleon declared himself Emperor in
1804.
1802: Heiligenstadt Testament depicts Beethoven’s desolation over his deafness;
1803: composition of the 3rd Symphony, originally titled Bonaparte, but changed to
Eroica after,
1804: Napoleon declares himself Emperor
1808: 5th Symphony in C minor, Op. 67
From Beethoven’s middle period come the works most often associated with Beethoven
and with what is known of his personality: forceful, uncompromising, angry, willful,
suffering, but overcoming extraordinary personal hardship, all of which traits are read
into his music. The Romantic cult of the individual who represents himself in his music
and of the genius who suffers for his art begins here with Beethoven.
Beethoven’s “late period” (1818 to his death [1827]) becomes more introspective and
abstract, as Beethoven’s deafness increasingly forces him to retreat into himself.
Although the 9th Symphony dates from these years, it is the only symphony to do so, and,
in many respects, is a throwback to the middle period. The late period is typified more
by smaller, more complex chamber works, among which the “late quartets” are the most
abstract in style.
1826: String Quartet in F, Op. 135, 2nd movement K 3:21
**
Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 in C Minor
This complete four-movement work is discussed by Kerman/Tomlinson, pp. 227-233; it
follows the typical symphonic pattern at the same time as it moves beyond it in multiple
ways. The four-movement scheme is: sonata, slow movement (variations), “minuet-trio”
(scherzo), finale (sonata form).
1st movement (K 3:6-14): perhaps known in some form to more people than any other
classical work. It begins with a declaration of its “motive” in a four-measure phrase with
a hold (fermata) on the second and fourth measures. In some ways this is a preliminary
statement, a slow introduction reduced to its smallest components. There is no clear
meter, nor even key (it could be E-flat major rather than C minor), certainly no melody to
speak of—only this motivic “seed” from which the entire symphony takes sustenance.
We have not heard a symphony with a slow introduction before the exposition of the first
movement, but they were common. Haydn used them frequently, and Beethoven did as
well in his earlier (and later) symphonies. Typically they present less formed material
than occurs in the exposition: the harmony is often in flux and distant from the key of the
movement, and the overall feeling is anticipatory. Never are they as profiled or chiseled
as the four measures that begin the 5th Symphony. Further, the fermata at the end of the
first theme brings into question whether the exposition has actually begun, even at this
late point, or whether this is just an extension of the anticipatory section. Beethoven
persistently keeps the listener on edge, upsetting convention and expectation
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