|Ludwig van Beethoven opus 125|
Symphony No. 9 "choral"Symphony in D minor. 1824. Time: 69'00.
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The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best known works of the Western classical repertoire, and has been adapted for use as the European Anthem. It is considered[who?] one of Beethoven's masterpieces and one of the greatest musical compositions ever written.
The symphony was the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony. The words are sung during the final movement by four vocal soloists and a chorus. They were taken from the "Ode to Joy", a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803, with additions made by the composer.
The Philharmonic Society of London originally commissioned the symphony in 1817. Beethoven started the work in 1818 and finished early in 1824. However, both the words and notes of the symphony have sources dating from earlier in Beethoven's career.
The title of Schiller's poem "An die Freude" is literally translated as "To Joy", but is normally called the "Ode to Joy". It was written in 1785 and first published the following year in the poet's own literary journal, Thalia. Beethoven had made plans to set this poem to music as far back as 1793, when he was 22 years old.
Beethoven's sketchbooks show that bits of musical material that ultimately appeared in the symphony were written in 1811, and 1817.
In addition, the symphony also emerged from other pieces by Beethoven that, while completed works in their own right, are also in some sense sketches for the future symphony. The Choral Fantasy Opus. 80 (1808), basically a piano concerto movement, brings in a chorus and vocal soloists near the end to form the climax. As in the Ninth Symphony, the vocal forces sing a theme first played instrumentally, and this theme is highly reminiscent of the corresponding theme in the Ninth Symphony (for a detailed comparison, see Choral Fantasy). Going further back, an earlier version of the Choral Fantasy theme is found in the song "Gegenliebe" ("Returned Love"), for piano and high voice, which dates from before 1795.
The theme for the scherzo can be traced back to a fugue written in 1815.
The introduction for the vocal part of the symphony caused many difficulties for Beethoven. Beethoven's friend Anton Schindler, later said: "When he started working on the fourth movement the struggle began as never before. The aim was to find an appropriate way of introducing Schiller's ode. One day he [Beethoven] entered the room and shouted 'I got it, I just got it!' Then he showed me a sketchbook with the words 'let us sing the ode of the immortal Schiller'". However, Beethoven did not retain this version, and kept rewriting until he had found its final form, with the words "O Freunde, nicht diese Töne" ("O friends, not these sounds").
Beethoven was eager to have his work played in Berlin as soon as possible after finishing it, since he thought that musical taste in Vienna was dominated by Italian composers such as Rossini. When his friends and financiers heard this, they urged him to premiere the symphony in Vienna.
The Ninth Symphony was premiered on May 7, 1824 in the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna, along with the Consecration of the House Overture and the first three parts of the Missa Solemnis. This was the composer's first on-stage appearance in twelve years; the hall was packed. The soprano and alto parts were interpreted by two famous young singers: Henriette Sontag and Caroline Unger.
Although the performance was officially directed by Michael Umlauf, the theatre's Kapellmeister, Beethoven shared the stage with him. However, two years earlier, Umlauf had watched as the composer's attempt to conduct a dress rehearsal of his opera Fidelio ended in disaster. So this time, he instructed the singers and musicians to ignore the totally deaf Beethoven. At the beginning of every part, Beethoven, who sat by the stage, gave the tempos. He was turning the pages of his score and beating time for an orchestra he could not hear.
There are a number of anecdotes about the premiere of the Ninth. Based on the testimony of the participants, there are suggestions that it was under-rehearsed (there were only two full rehearsals) and rather scrappy in execution. On the other hand, the premiere was a great success. In any case, Beethoven was not to blame, as violinist Josef Böhm recalled: "Beethoven directed the piece himself; that is, he stood before the lectern and gesticulated furiously. At times he rose, at other times he shrank to the ground, he moved as if he wanted to play all the instruments himself and sing for the whole chorus. All the musicians minded his rhythm alone while playing".
When the audience applauded—testimonies differ over whether at the end of the scherzo or the whole symphony—Beethoven was several measures off and still conducting. Because of that, the contralto Caroline Unger walked over and turned Beethoven around to accept the audience's cheers and applause. According to one witness, "the public received the musical hero with the utmost respect and sympathy, listened to his wonderful, gigantic creations with the most absorbed attention and broke out in jubilant applause, often during sections, and repeatedly at the end of them." The whole audience acclaimed him through standing ovations five times; there were handkerchiefs in the air, hats, raised hands, so that Beethoven, who could not hear the applause, could at least see the ovation gestures. The theatre house had never seen such enthusiasm in applause.
At that time, it was customary that the Imperial couple be greeted with three ovations when they entered the hall. The fact that five ovations were received by a private person who was not even employed by the state, and moreover, was a musician (a class of people who had been perceived as lackeys at court), was in itself considered almost indecent. Police agents present at the concert had to break off this spontaneous explosion of ovations. Beethoven left the concert deeply moved.
The repeat performance on May 23 in the great hall of the Fort was, however, poorly attended.
The Breitkopf & Härtel edition dating from 1864 has been used widely by orchestras. In 1997 Bärenreiter published an edition by Jonathan Del Mar. According to Del Mar, this edition corrects nearly 3000 mistakes in the Breitkopf edition, some of which were remarkable. Professor David Levy, however, criticized this edition in Beethoven Forum, saying that it could create "quite possibly false" traditions. Breitkopf also published a new edition by Peter Hauschild in 2005.
While many of the modifications in the newer editions make minor alterations to dynamics and articulation, both editions change the orchestral lead-in to the final statement of the choral theme in the fourth movement (IV: m525 m542). The newer versions alter the articulation of the horn calls, creating syncopation that no longer relates to the previous motive. The new Breitkopf & Härtel and Bärenreiter make this alteration differently, but the result is a reading that is different from what was commonly accepted based on the 1864 Breitkopf edition. While both Breitkopf & Härtel and Bärenreiter consider their editions the most accurate versions available—labeling them Urtext editions—their conclusions are not universally accepted. In his monograph "Beethoven—the ninth symphony", Professor David Levy describes the rationale for these changes and the danger of calling the editions Urtext.
The symphony is scored for the following orchestra. These are by far the largest forces needed for any Beethoven symphony; at the premiere, Beethoven augmented them further by assigning two players to each wind part.
The symphony is in four movements, marked as follows:
Beethoven changes the usual pattern of Classical symphonies in placing the scherzo movement before the slow movement (in symphonies, slow movements are usually placed before scherzi). This was the first time that he did this in a symphony, although he had done so in some previous works (including the quartets Op. 18 no. 5, the "Archduke" piano trio Op. 97, the "Hammerklavier" piano sonata Op. 106). Haydn, too, had used this arrangement in a number of works.
Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso. Duration approx. 15 mins.
The first movement is in sonata form, and the mood is often stormy. The opening theme, played pianissimo over string tremolos, so much resembles the sound of an orchestra tuning, many commentators have suggested that was Beethoven's inspiration. But from within that musical limbo emerges a theme of power and clarity which will drive the entire movement. Later, at the outset of the recapitulation section, it returns fortissimo in D major, rather than the opening's D minor. The introduction also employs the use of the mediant to tonic relationship which further distorts the tonic key until it is finally played by the bassoon in the lowest possible register.
The coda employs the chromatic fourth interval.
Scherzo: Molto vivace - Presto. Duration approx. 10 mins.
The second movement, a scherzo, is also in D minor, with the opening theme bearing a passing resemblance to the opening theme of the first movement, a pattern also found in the Hammerklavier piano sonata, written a few years earlier. It uses propulsive rhythms and a timpani solo. At times during the piece Beethoven directs that the beat should be one downbeat every three bars, perhaps because of the very fast pace of the majority of the movement which is written in triple time, with the direction ritmo di tre battute ("rhythm of three bars"), and one beat every four bars with the direction ritmo di quattro battute ("rhythm of four bars").
Beethoven had been criticised before for failing to adhere to standard form for his compositions. He used this movement to answer his critics. Normally, scherzi are written in triple time. Beethoven wrote this piece in triple time, but it is punctuated in a way that, when coupled with the speed of the metre, makes it sound as though it is in quadruple time.
While adhering to the standard ternary design of a dance movement (scherzo-trio-scherzo, or minuet-trio-minuet), the scherzo section has an elaborate internal structure: it is a complete sonata form. Within this sonata form, the first group of the exposition starts out with a fugue.
The contrasting trio section is in D major and in duple (cut) time. The trio is the first time the trombones play in the work.
Adagio molto e cantabile - Andante Moderato - Tempo Primo - Andante Moderato - Adagio - Lo Stesso Tempo. Duration approx. 16 mins.
Presto; Allegro molto assai (Alla marcia); Andante maestoso; Allegro energico, sempre ben marcato. Duration approx. 24 mins.
The famous choral finale is Beethoven's musical representation of Universal Brotherhood. American pianist and music author Charles Rosen has characterized it as a symphony within a symphony, the view which will be followed below. It is important to note that many other writers have interpreted its form in different terms, including two of the greatest analysts of the twentieth century, Heinrich Schenker and Donald Tovey. In Rosen's view, it contains four movements played without interruption. This "inner symphony" follows the same overall pattern as the Ninth Symphony as a whole. The scheme is as follows:
The movement has a thematic unity, in which every part may be shown to be based on either the main theme, the "Seid umschlungen" theme, or some combination of the two.
The first "movement within a movement" itself is organized into sections:
Words written by Beethoven (not Schiller) are shown in italics.
The full libretto including repetitions can be found on German Wikisource.
In the near ending, it is, "Freude, Tochter aus Elysium", and also in the near ending, "Wir betreten feuertrunken, Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!", is omitted, then the choir sings the last four lines of the main theme, where they stop at, "Alle Menschen", before the slow part when the soloists sing for one last time the song of joy.
In the ending climax, the chorus softens quietly on the word "Götterfunken". Then, the orchestra descends chords in arpeggio form, and in slow maestoso tempo, the full chorus sings, "Tochter aus Elysium, Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Götterfunken!". The symphony ends with the orchestra playing the final section in prestissimo tempo.
The vocal part of Beethoven's 9th Symphony thus ends with the final word "Götterfunken" (literally, "Godly-spark").
Many later composers of the Romantic period and beyond were influenced specifically by Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
At Easter 1831 Richard Wagner completed a piano arrangement of Beethoven's 9th symphony. Wagner had to decide which instrumental lines in the original had to be omitted since the pianist cannot play all the orchestral parts, thus giving his reduction a personal signature.
An important theme in the finale of Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in C minor is related to the "Ode to Joy" theme from the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth symphony. When this was pointed out to Brahms, he is reputed to have retorted "Any ass can see that!", which suggests the imitation was intentional. Brahms's first symphony was, at times, both praised and derided as "Beethoven's Tenth".
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was an influence on the development of the compact disc. Philips, the company that had started the work on the new audio format, originally planned for a CD to have a diameter of 11.5 cm, the width of the then popular compact cassette, while Sony planned a 10 cm diameter, even more compact but enough for one hour of music. However, according to a Philips website, Norio Ohga insisted in 1979 that the CD be able to contain a complete performance of the Ninth Symphony:
That said, the true story might have been less romantic: Kees Immink, Philips' chief engineer, who developed the CD, recalls that a commercial tug-of-war between the development partners led to a settlement in a neutral 12-cm diameter format. The 1951 performance of the Ninth Symphony by Furtwängler was brought forward as the perfect excuse for the change.
Lasting more than an hour, the Ninth was an exceptionally long symphony for its time. Like much of Beethoven's later music, his Ninth Symphony is demanding for all the performers, including the choir and soloists.
As with all of his symphonies, Beethoven has provided his own metronome markings for the Ninth Symphony, and as with all of his metronome markings, there is controversy among conductors regarding the degree to which they should be followed. Historically, conductors have tended to take a slower tempo than Beethoven marked for the slow movement, and a faster tempo for the military march section of the finale. Conductors in the historically informed performance movement, notably Roger Norrington, have used Beethoven's suggested tempos, to mixed reviews.
Ritard/a tempo at the end of the first movement
Many conductors move the "a tempo" in m.511 of the first movement to measure m.513 to coincide with the "Funeral March".
Re-orchestrations and alterations
A number of conductors have made alterations in the instrumentation of the symphony.
Gustav Mahler revised the orchestration of the Ninth to make it sound like what he believed Beethoven would have wanted if given a modern orchestra. For example, since the modern orchestra has larger string sections than in Beethoven's time, Mahler doubled various wind and brass parts to preserve the balance between strings on the one hand and winds and brass on the other.
Horn and trumpet alterations
Beethoven's writing for horns and trumpets throughout the symphony (mostly the 2nd horn and 2nd trumpet) is often altered by performers to avoid large leaps (those of a 12th or more).
Flute and first violin alterations
In the first movement, at times the first violins and flute have ascending 7th leaps within mostly descending melodic phrases. Many conductors alter the register of these passages to create a single descending scale (examples: measure 143 in the flute, m. 501 in the first violins).
2nd bassoon doubling basses in the finale
Beethoven's indication that the 2nd bassoon should double the basses in measures 115-164 of the finale was not included in the Breitkopf parts, though it was included in the score.
Notable performances and recordings
In 1951 Furtwängler and the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra reopened the Bayreuth Festival after the Allies temporarily suspended it following the Second World War. This historically important recording is available exclusively on ORFEO
After rejecting many performances that he conducted, Arturo Toscanini approved the release of the 1952 LP studio recording of the symphony he made for RCA Victor. Soloists were Jan Peerce (tenor), Eileen Farrell (soprano), Nan Merriman (mezzo) and Norman Scott (bass), with the Robert Shaw Chorale, and Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra. This version has been used by NBC News for The Huntley-Brinkley Report (the second movement played over the closing credits).
Political significance has attached to Beethoven's Ninth: Leonard Bernstein conducted a version of the 9th, with "Freiheit" ("Freedom") replacing "Freude" ("Joy"), to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall during Christmas 1989. This concert was performed by an orchestra and chorus made up of many nationalities: from Germany, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Chorus of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, and members of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden; from the Soviet Union, members of the Orchestra of the Kirov Theatre, from the United Kingdom, members of the London Symphony Orchestra; from the USA, members of the New York Philharmonic, and from France, members of the Orchestre de Paris. Soloists were June Anderson, soprano, Sarah Walker, mezzo-soprano, Klaus König, tenor, and Jan-Hendrik Rootering, bass.
Bernstein made his first recording of the Beethoven Ninth in 1964 with the New York Philharmonic, for Columbia Masterworks, with soloists Martina Arroyo (soprano), Regina Safarty (mezzo), Nicholas di Virgilio (tenor), Norman Scott (bass), and the Juilliard Chorus. It was later reissued on CD. It was the first of three complete recordings of the Ninth that Bernstein made. He made his second recording of the piece with the Vienna Philharmonic for Deutsche Grammophon, in 1979. This second one featured Gwyneth Jones (soprano), Hanna Schwarz (mezzo), René Kollo, and Kurt Moll (bass), with the chorus of the Vienna State Opera.
Seiji Ozawa conducted the Nagano Winter Orchestra as well as seven choirs in six countries on five continents, performed the Fourth Movement in its entirety, for the 1998 Winter Olympic Games during the finale of the Opening Ceremony. The chorus locations being New York City, Berlin, Cape Point, Sydney, and Beijing, with two in Nagano: the Tokyo Opera Singers and the audience at Nagano Olympic Stadium.
Daniel Barenboim, who had recorded the work twice before, conducted the West-Eastern Divan (a youth orchestra of Israel and Arab musicians, which he co-founded) in concert in Berlin on 27 August 2006.
There have been various attempts to record the Ninth to come closer to what Beethoven's contemporaries would have heard, such as recording the Ninth with period instruments. Roger Norrington conducting the London Classical Players recorded it with period instruments for a 1987 release by EMI Records (rereleased in 1997 under the Virgin Classics label). Benjamin Zander made a 1992 recording of the Ninth with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and noted soprano Dominique Labelle (who first performed the work with Robert Shaw), following Beethoven's own metronome markings. Twelve years later after Norrington, Philippe Herreweghe recorded the Ninth with his period-instrument Orchestre des Champs-Élysées and his Collegium Vocale chorus for Harmonia Mundi in 1999. Sir John Eliot Gardiner recorded his period-instrument version of the Ninth Symphony, conducting his Monteverdi Choir and Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique in 1992. It was first released by Deutsche Grammophon in 1994 on their early music Archiv Produktion label as part of his complete cycle of the Beethoven symphonies. His soloists included Luba Orgonasova, Anne Sofie von Otter, Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Gilles Cachemaille. An additional period-instrument recording by Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music was released in 1997 under the label Éditions de l'Oiseau-Lyre.
Franz Liszt arranged the whole symphony for piano, and that arrangement has been recorded by Konstantin Scherbakov. Richard Wagner arranged the orchestral parts for piano, retaining vocal soloists and choir, and this has been recorded by Noriko Ogawa with the Bach Collegium Japan directed by Masaaki Suzuki.
One of the first recordings to incorporate many of Jonathan Del Mar's corrections was by Sir Charles Mackerras, as the first symphony in his EMI cycle of the Beethoven symphonies with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir in 1991. His soloists included Bryn Terfel, Della Jones, Joan Rodgers and Peter Bronder. Mackerras later re-recorded the Ninth for his second recorded cycle of Beethoven symphonies for Hyperion Records, live at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival, this time with the Philharmonia Orchestra. David Zinman's 1997 recording with the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra was a modern instrument recording that used the Baerenreiter edition edited by Jonathan Del Mar.
Osmo Vänskä, conducting the Minnesota Orchestra, recorded the symphony as part of a cycle all of the Beethoven Symphonies. Released on the BIS label, it included soloists Helena Juntunen, Katarina Karnéus, Daniel Norman and Neal Davies, as well as the Minnesota Chorale. It received a positive critical reception, including a Grammy Award nomination in the Best Orchestral Performance category.
During the division of Germany in the Cold War, the Ode to Joy segment of the symphony was also played in lieu of an anthem at the Olympic Games for the Unified Team of Germany between 1956 and 1968. In 1972, the musical backing (without the words) was adopted as the Anthem of Europe by the Council of Europe and subsequently by the European Communities (now the European Union) in 1985. In 1985, the European Union chose Beethoven's music as the EU anthem. When Kosovo declared independence in 2008, it lacked an anthem, so for the independence ceremonies it used Ode to Joy, in recognition of the European Union's role in its independence. It has since adopted its own anthem. Additionally, the Ode to Joy was adopted as the national anthem of Rhodesia in 1974 as Rise O Voices of Rhodesia.
Books and scholarly articles
Scores, manuscripts and text
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