- Symphony No. 7 (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethovenbegan concentrated work on his Symphony No. 7 in A major (Op. 92) in 1811, while he was staying in the Bohemian spa town of Teplicein the hope of improving his health. It was completed in 1812, and was dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries.
The work was premiered in
Viennaon December 8, 1813at a charity concert for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Hanau, with Beethoven himself conductingand double featured with the patriotic Wellington's Victorysymphony. The orchestra was led by Beethoven's friend, Ignaz Schuppanzigh, and included some of the finest musicians of the day: violinist Louis SpohrSteinberg, Michael. "The Symphony: a listeners guide". p. 38-43. Oxford University Press, 1995.] , Johann Hummel, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Antonio Salieri, Anton Romberg, and the Italian double bass virtuoso, Domenico Dragonetti, who Beethoven himself described as playing "with great fire and expressive power". The piece was very well received, and the allegrettohad to be encored. Spohr made particular mention of Beethoven's antics on the rostrum ("as a "sforzando" occurred, he tore his arms with a great vehemence asunder ... at the entrance of a "forte" he jumped in the air"), and the concert would inevitably be repeated due to its immense success.
The Seventh Symphony is in four movements:
*I. Poco sostenuto — Vivace
*IV. Allegro con brio
Performance time lasts approximately 34 minutes.
The second movement, in
A minor, is "slow", although the tempo marking is "Allegretto" ("a little lively"), making it slow only in comparison to the other three movements. This movement was encored at the premiere and has remained popular since. The ostinato(repeated rhythmic figure) of a quarter note, two eighth notes and two quarter notes is heard repeatedly.
The third movement is a
scherzoand trio. Here, the trio (based on an Austrian pilgrims' hymn,cite book |title= Beethoven and his nine symphonies|last= Grove|first= Sir George|authorlink= George Grove|year= 1962|publisher= Dover Publications|location= New York|edition= 3rd ed.|oclc= 705665|pages= p. 228-271] yet another example of applying poetry to music) is played twice rather than once. This expansion of the usual A-B-A structure of ternary forminto A-B-A-B-A was quite common in other works of Beethoven of this period, such as his Fourth Symphony and String Quartet Op. 59 No. 2.
The last movement is in
sonata form. Donald Francis Tovey, writing in his " Essays in Musical Analysis", commented on this movement's "Bacchic fury". The coda contains an example, rare in Beethoven's music, of the dynamic marking ƒƒƒ (called "fortississimo" or "fortissiomo").
The work is known for its use of rhythmic devices. It is also tonally subtle, making use of the tensions between the key centres of A, C and F. The second movement is in A minor with episodes in A major, and the scherzo is in F major.
Critics and listeners have often felt stirred or inspired by the Seventh Symphony. For instance, one program-note author writes: [cite web
title=Beethoven: Symphony No. 7
publisher=(personal web page)]
:... the final movement zips along at an irrepressible pace that threatens to sweep the entire orchestra off its feet and around the theater, caught up in the sheer joy of performing one of the most perfect symphonies ever written.
Composer and music author
Antony Hopkinssays of the symphony: [Hopkins 1981, 219]
:The Seventh Symphony perhaps more than any of the others gives us a feeling of true spontaneity; the notes seem to fly off the page as we are borne along on a floodtide of inspired invention. Beethoven himself spoke of it fondly as "one of my best works". Who are we to dispute his judgment?
On the other hand, admiration for the work has not been universal.
Carl Maria von Weberconsidered the chromatic bass line in the coda of the first movement evidence that Beethoven was "ripe for the madhouse" [Hopkins 1981, 196] and the 20th century conductor Thomas Beechamwas similarly uncharitable, saying "What can you do with it? It's like a lot of yaks jumping about." [cite article|first=David|last=Bicknell|title=Sir Thomas Beecham| url=http://www.classicalrecording.org/zbeecham/index.html (EMI executive)]
*cite book |title= The Nine Symphonies of Beethoven|last= Hopkins|first= Antony|authorlink= Antony Hopkins|year= 1981|publisher= Heinemann;
Seattle: University of Washington Press|location= London|isbn= 9780295958231|oclc= 6981522
* [http://www.dlib.indiana.edu/variations/scores/akx3424/large/index.html Full Score] of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.
* [http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cuo/audio.html Free recording] by the Columbia University Orchestra.
* [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5481664 Introduction by the conductor of a Philadelphia Orchestra performance] .
* [http://www.nwsinfonietta.com/notes3Oct03.htm Aperçu of Apotheosis] , Program Notes on the Seventh Symphony by
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.