The Eighth Symphony consists of four movements:
The Eighth Symphony is generally light-hearted, though not lightweight, and in many places cheerfully loud, with many accented notes. Various passages in the symphony are heard by some listeners to be musical jokes. As with various other Beethoven works such as the Opus 27 piano sonatas, the symphony deviates from Classical tradition in making the last movement the weightiest of the four.
The work was begun in the summer of 1812, immediately after the completion of the Seventh Symphony.At the time Beethoven was 41 years old. As Antony Hopkins has noted, the cheerful mood of the work betrays nothing of the grossly unpleasant events that were taking place in Beethoven’s life at the time, which involved his interference in his brother Johann’s love life. The work took Beethoven only four months to complete, and is, unlike many of his works, without dedication.
The premiere took place on 24 February 1814, at a concert in the Redoutensaal, Vienna, at which theSeventh Symphony (which had been premiered two months earlier) was also played. Beethoven was growing increasingly deaf at the time, but nevertheless led the premiere. Reportedly, “the orchestra largely ignored his ungainly gestures and followed the principal violinist instead.”