At the premiere in Vienna, Beethoven conducted the orchestra led by his close friend the violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh (whose Razumovsky String Quartet premiered many of Beethoven’s chamber works, including several late quartets). . 9 seem, in many ways, to be receiving their first full outing here. For two centuries, that question has plagued musicologists, psychologists, mathematicians, philosophers, composers, music nerds, and, well, blogging computer-science professors. “It is unbelievably beautiful. Outside my window, the Berlin sidewalks were packed with East Berliners. We know from discovered writings of Lobkowitz, one of Beethoven’s patrons, that the first public performance was on April 7, 1805, at … 59, No. Beethoven's Symphony 7 - The Joyous Seventh. “It doesn’t feel autobiographical to me, though everything he wrote is autobiographical in some way,” Bell says. Like any instance in which you are directing or conducting, you’re trying to get the overall architecture and shape so it creates a sense of the piece. That fate has arguably befallen Symphony No. The Allegretto continues to work its way into popular culture. Susan Lewis: The Allegretto has been performed on its own, used in The King’s Speech and other films, and inspired composers from Schubert to jazz pianist Jacques Loussier. “For eight minutes, life and art were in perfect synch, mutual imitation, mutual validation.”. “I think the symphony has a sense of triumph—there is nothing so triumphant as Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. We’re trying to understand the H-bomb of music and from Yale what do we get? This mournful cry, which begins and ends the andante, is produced by a six-four chord, which always tends to resolve itself onto another one. They were walking freely in family groups unafraid through the suddenly accessible western part of the city. As Siegel pointed out to listeners in that broadcast, Franz Schubert also was haunted by that movement, in fact, throughout his entire career. Here’s my theory . Does Bell regard the Allegretto as the greatest music ever written? if (typeof TTDUniversalPixelApi === 'function') { The second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. The famous Beethoven “Allegretto” from his Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. Symphony No. Yet, this music is deeply heartbreaking. It’s the ultimate crying of lament. I find that it gets weaker if it goes big. Ending on an unresolved harmony is the only way to conclude, by leaving the listener in suspense and thereby increasing the impression of dreamy sadness into which everything that came before must have plunged him.”, The confidence of the composer, his assured use of simple melodies, and the sophistication of the texture and tonal structure of the Seventh, in comparison to his Sixth Symphony, composed four years earlier, remains a source of wonder. And what, if anything, does the Allegretto reveal about Beethoven? . WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on why this particular movement continues to engages us. From there it passes to the second violins while the cellos sing a kind of lament in the minor mode. But a ray of hope appears: these heartbreaking sounds are followed by a transparent melody, pure, simple, gentle, sad and resigned, like patience smiling to suffering. The Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter and directive written by Beethoven to his brothers in October, 1802, is an important missive, opened after the composer's death in 1827. It somehow goes so much deeper than that. SL: What is it about the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th symphony that draws us in? In the background, you could hear the seductive pulse of the Allegretto. The piece has to peak at the right time—you don’t want to get too loud too soon. . I’m no music critic, not even a musician, but this music means something special to me, with its theme of struggle and progress, of adversity and ultimate triumph,” said radio host Robert Siegel, during a 2003 broadcast commentary on the Beethoven on NPR’s All Things Considered. This symphony was premiered in December 1813, at a benefit concert for soldiers wounded in the fight against Napoleon’s army. The music that underscores the scene is the second movement (Allegretto) of this symphony. 68 The Sixth Symphony is one of only two symphonies Beethoven intentionally named. 7, Movement 2. . When I awoke in a hotel on the Kurfurstendamm, I turned on the television set and saw the Berlin Philharmonic and [conductor] Daniel Barenboim playing precisely this movement of the Seventh. Like Schubert, Bell also has a personal connection to the Allegretto. His full title was "Pastoral Symphony… For string players, there’s a sense of playing deep into the strings and a certain sense of expression and rhythm. One key consideration is the tempo. A musicologist friend of mine back at Yale thought he found the hidden key to the Allegretto’s mystery in folk dancing. Conflicting rhythms clash painfully with each other; these are tears, sobs and supplications—this is the expression of limitless grief and all-consuming suffering. The Seventh Symphony was a big hit—the orchestra honored the audience’s call for an encore of the Allegretto. 8 – but not No. Beethoven doesn’t get a lot of credit for his orchestration—at least not in the way that Debussy does—but the way that he composed brought out the best in each instrument. Ever.”. The slow movement even ends with an unresolved chord with no root, just as it begins. At this point the wind instruments, reviving like the flame of a candle on the point of extinction, utter a deep sigh on an unresolved harmony and . Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. I’ve heard it played like a funeral march, very slowly, and that doesn’t serve the purpose of the piece. 7 was composed in 1812, four years after his “Pastoral” symphony. Folk dancing? 23 and Op. The rhythmic pattern consists merely of a dactyl [one long and two short syllables] followed by a spondee [two long syllables] played relentlessly, either in three parts, or in only one, then in all parts together. The finale, Allegro con brio, is in an furiously energetic 2/4 meter, with a recurring emphasis on the second beat of the measure (it’s hard to miss at the beginning of the movement). 7. Symphony No 7 in A Major, Opus 92 was composed by Beethoven between 1811 and 1812, while improving his troubled health. ! “Somehow, it seems that Beethoven engineered the most fabulous interferences ever.”, Joshua Bell on the Power of the Allegretto. SL: What is it about the Allegretto? Among the other notable musicians in the orchestra were violinist and composer Louis Spohr (who invented the chin rest), pianist Giacomo Meyerbeer (the most successful stage composer of his day), and the Italian double-bass virtuoso and composer Domenico Dragonetti. One might have a tendency to take a ritard into it because it’s so powerful that you want to . . Flutes and oboes pick up the theme in a dying voice, but do not have the strength to finish it, which the violins do with a few barely audible pizzicato notes. But as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the city was a musical magnet for composers, especially from the late 18th century through the 19th and beyond. I’ve heard it hundreds of times over decades and it always feels fresh and enchanting.”. Beethoven had some kind of inherent skill and people have written about it, and will continue to write about it, in order to try to understand this combination of timbre, tension, and resolution and how that occurs in time in any given piece of music.”. “It’s not just a beautiful spinning melody like Schubert or Schumann would have composed. It was a time when the Napoleonic Wars continued to bring upheaval to Beethoven’s adopted city of Vienna, the surrounding region, and beyond. 7. 92 was heralded by Beethoven’s contemporaries and scholars in this day and age as a masterpiece of artistry and musical genius.