Beethovens Ninth Symphony Essay, Research Paper
I attended Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on October 14, at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya and Southwestern Seminary Oratorio Chorus, directed by C. David Keith, performed it. Ludwig Van Beethoven composed the work. He composed it between 1811-1824. Beethoven composed the work in D minor, Op. 125 (“Choral”). His Ninth Symphony was his last symphony to compose. It was preceded by eight other symphonies. I was attracted to this work because it was the first symphony to include a choral. I found it astonishing that Beethoven was completely deaf when he finished this work.
The first movement is in sonata form – Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso. Strings and horns appear from the distance as if they had been already playing out of earshot. The music gradually intensifies in volume until the final explosion into the first subject. Then this whole process is repeated. The first movement shows a contrast of emotion that seems to return in the recapitulation before moving firmly into the minor in the coda, with the movement ending with an emphatic statement based on the first subject.
Then follows a scherzo with trio – Molto vivace – also in D minor. The scherzo itself is in sonata form with all parts repeated. The octave tuned drums immediately announcing the important role they play in the tonality of the movement as a whole. Then follows a hushed fugato, which serves an introductory purpose as the full force of the orchestra. Then follows a more harmonic path with the utmost vigor. The second subject in C major adds an unusual harmonic flavor. The trio has a quasi-pastoral flavor, The trio is played only once, although Beethoven fools us into believing we will here it once more at the end, like in the first movement but it abruptly ends.
The third movement – Adagio molto e cantabile – is quasi-variational similar and involves two themes: Adagio molto and Andante moderato. Both themes are of unsurpassed beauty. There is no link musically between the themes. Indeed it seems that contrast serves an important function in the movement as also seen in the two dramatic fanfares hear towards the end.
The finally movement and my favorite of the four movements, Beethoven lets the cellos and basses ‘talk’ in a gruff recitative that passes judgment on the themes of the first three movements. The recitative then halts and slowly, out of this darkness, the ‘joy’ theme is heard. As the theme commences, the other instruments of the orchestra become involved and the theme is evolved into its ideal instrumental form. But what does Beethoven do here? He stops the whole show. Then, with the aid of Schiller, the true musical revelation is finally made This first verse, sung in D major, Allegro Assai, is then repeated by the male chorus. With the second verse the other soloists (tenor, mezzo-soprano, soprano) become involved, and the verse is again repeated, sung now by the whole chorus. With the third verse, the ‘joy’ theme has a slightly more urgent flavor, again sung by the four soloists then repeated by the chorus. The chorus repeats the last line once more with emphasis placed on each word until a dramatic climax is reached with the word “God!”
I really enjoyed the experience of hearing one of the greatest symphonies composed. I felt the The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and Southwestern Seminary Oratorio Chorus did an excellent job performing Beethoven’s work. I enjoyed the vast amount of woodwinds, brass, strings, and drums that were used. It seemed to be an unusually large orchestra and a beautiful choral. I have been to several symphonies, but this was this first time I knew what I was listening to and what to listen for. It greatly enhanced the experience. The next time I go to a symphony I will do my research before I go so I will understand it better. And be able to truly understand the work like I did for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.