The Seventh Symphony is in four movements:
Ludwig van Beethoven‘s Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, was the seventh of his nine symphonies. He worked on it while staying in the Bohemian spa town of Teplice in the hope of improving his health. It was completed in 1812, and was dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries.
At its debut, Beethoven was noted as remarking that it was one of his best works. The second movement, Allegretto, was the most popular movement and had to be encored. The instant popularity of the Allegretto resulted in its frequent performance separate from the complete symphony.
Critics and listeners have often felt stirred or inspired by the Seventh Symphony. For instance, one program-note author writes:
… 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.
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. Friedrich Wieck, who was present during rehearsals, said that the consensus, among musicians and laymen alike, was that Beethoven must have composed the symphony in a drunken state. Carl Maria von Weber considered the chromatic bass line in the coda of the first movement evidence that Beethoven was “ripe for the madhouse”, and the conductor Thomas Beecham was uncharitable about the third movement, saying “What can you do with it? It’s like a lot of yaks jumping about.”
- Daniel Barenboim on the beauty of Beethoven (telegraph.co.uk)
- Local symphony gets two new young performers (ktvb.com)
- Beethoven and the Quality of Courage (nybooks.com)
- Beethoven’s Ninth fitting end to spirited festival (triblive.com)