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Why Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 Should Be Your 2017 Summer Jam

Or your Forever Jam

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Everyone knows Beethoven - he's one of the most famous (and arguably one of the best) classical musicians in history.

As a prolific composer and virtuoso pianist, his name garners recognition anywhere. But, the real question is, what do you know about one of his most famous works? Probably not that much! But don't worry, there's a lot to learn and we've helped give you some of the most important ideas about the piece!

Historical Context

Via google.com

* Beethoven dedicated this piece to Russian Empress Elisabeth Aleksiev and Count Moritz von Fries, a Viennese patron of the arts.

* Preferring the widespread attention that came from performing with the public rather than a more traditional concert, often had open concerts to promote his work.

* The 7th symphony is regarded as one of Beethoven’s most popular works. It has been used in several films, including X-men: Apocalypse, The King’s Speech, The Road Within, and Knowing.

The Symphony

Via pinterest.com

* Orchestrated without trombones and with only two horns, the symphony was one of Beethoven's smallest.

* One of Beethoven's most rhythm driven symphonies, each movement chooses a particular rhythm to carry through the themes and explore.

* It has been performed as a ballet by the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

* Mostly centered around the A Major key, the Symphony sticks more closely to its home key than most of Beethoven's other works.

First Movement: Poco Sostenuto - Vivace

* The introduction takes up the entire first third, which is incredibly unusual for the era.

* Relies heavily on ascending scalar patterns carried from the lower, bass instruments to the upper treble instruments.

* Unlike many of Beethoven's other works, the structure of the Poco Sostenuto - Vivace is relatively unclear, loosely following Sonata form with overlapping themes.

* This movement repeats the note E no less than 61 times in the vivace section.

Second Movement: Allegretto

* This movement was the most popular of the piece, even demanded as an encore in the original performance and is often played by itself, apart from the rest of the symphony.

* The iconic melody is an ostinato (a phrase that frequently repeats), following a quarter-eighth-eighth-quarter-quarter form.

* Although this movement is the slowest of the four, Beethoven did not nearly intend for the pace to be as monumental as it is often performed (Allegretto means "at a fairly brisk tempo").

* Grows by adding layers of instruments one by one and overlapping ideas. The ideas start with the violas and cellos, then move to second violins, and finally end in the first violins.

* Based on a double variation structure; the first theme (A) is played, then the second (B), then a variation on A, a variation on B, and so on.

Third Movement: Presto - Assai Meno Presto

* The title of this movement can be translated as “Fast--much less fast”, a direct reference to the
fast A
and slower B themes in the piece.

* The third movement of this symphony is a scherzo (meaning “joke”, a piece in ¾ time that can replace a minuet in a four-movement work) featuring a trio as the B section.

* The trio is based on an Austrian pilgrims’ hymn, though the original hymn is uncredited and has yet to be properly identified.

* instead of following the usual ABA form, each theme is played an additional time, creating an ABABA structure. While unusual for others, Beethoven did this frequently in his other pieces, including his 4th Symphony and the String Quartet Op. 59 No. 2.

Fourth Movement: Allegro con Brio

* Brings it home with a traditional sonata form, in the home key of A major.

* Makes use of fff dynamics--very unusual for Beethoven, and as loud as it gets.

* Second theme is from a Hungarian dance, lending the "folk song" feeling to the piece and making the classical Symphony more attractive to the masses.

* Constant 8th and 16th note rhythms keep the pace relentless.

* The entire orchestra is playing for most of the piece - no rest!

Reception

Via prestoclassical.co.uk

* This symphony was immediately popular upon its debut. However, it was not quite the immediate hit that Wellington’s Victory (another piece premiered at the concert) was for the masses.

* Some critics felt that the piece was too lively, loud, and extravagant, but this piece is still regarded as one of Beethoven’s best.

Next time you are feeling down and want the classiest pick me up, put Beethoven’s 7th at the top of your playlist!

Or check out the quiz here to see which movement you are based on your personality!

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