Sakura Salon 8/10/14 – Beethoven Piano Sonatas

The fortepiano vs, the pianoforte

The fortepiano was the precursor of the modern piano, and was invented by the Italian instrument maker Bartolomeo Cristofori around 1700. He called his instrument “gravecembalo col piano e forte” (harpsichord with soft and loud).

Visually, the instrument looks like a harpsichord in scale. Mozart’s fortepiano has 61 notes as compared to the modern piano’s 88 keys.

The keyboard is reverse color, meaning that the naturals are black and the sharps and flats are white. In historic times, this was done for economic reasons — it took less ivory for the sharps and flats.

The fortepiano has a wooden frame while the modern piano has a metal one.

There are only two strings per note instead of the three on the modern piano.

The hammers are covered by leather instead of hard felt.

The damper pedal is not operated by the foot, but by a knee lever. The rate of decay is greater on a fortepiano (sound dies away faster).

Tonally, the fortepiano varies from bass to treble — the bass notes have a slightly “buzzy” quality while the treble notes are more “tinkly.” The modern piano has a more even tonal quality from top to bottom.
Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 (Pathétique)

Grave – Molto allegro e con brio
Adagio cantabile
Rondo: Allegro

This Sonata represents one of the few cases in which the popular title came from the composer himself – its full name is ‘Grande sonate pathétique’ (pathetic in the sense of ‘suffering’, rather than the English sense of ‘pitiful’). It was written in 1798, a time when Beethoven was beginning to become aware of his encroaching deafness and yet was leading a relatively contented domestic life.

The dramatic Grave introduction to the Pathétique is the most powerful opening to any of his sonatas to this date and its music becomes an intrinsic part of the movement through its reappearances at the beginning of the development and coda. There is an almost ‘orchestral’ texture to much of the piano writing, with chords marked forte-piano at the opening and a timpani-like left-hand accompaniment to the Allegro’s main theme.

The Adagio cantabile is in one of the simplest of forms: three statements of a heartfelt theme separated by short episodes and followed by a brief coda – there is no attempt at development as such.

The Sonata ends with a straightforward rondo that, despite its minor key, only recaptures the general character of the rest of the work in the sforzando chords of the coda, the remainder being more delicate and even humorous.
Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 2 (Moonlight)

Adagio sostenuto
Allegretto
Presto agitato

The popular nickname of the ‘Moonlight’ for the second sonata of Op. 27 may be a fair title for the first movement, but the rest of the work contains some of the most turbulent music Beethoven ever wrote. Much has been said of Countess Guicciardi, or at least Beethoven’s feelings for her, being the Sonata’s inspiration, but, as she herself recalled, it was not dedicated to her until after another work intended for her had had to be reassigned to another patron.

This is again designated as a ‘Sonata quasi una fantasia’. There is no standard fast first movement. Instead, the Sonata opens with a slow movement, a calm and poetic, virtually athematic Adagio sostenuto. It is followed without a break by a short D flat major scherzo, with a dramatic, syncopated trio, and the hectic, often ferocious Presto agitato concludes the Sonata in a mood about as far away from the Adagio as is possible.

 

 

Sakura Salon – The Classical Symphony

This summer, we have done a deeper dive into the Classical period, whose most famous composers were Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.  First we started with the symphony, we have also looked at the piano sonata.  Coming weeks we will look at the Theme and Variations form, then end up with the piano concerto.

Below is more general information on the Classical Symphony!

 

I frequently compare a symphony with a novel in which the themes are characters. After we have made their acquaintance, we follow their evolution, the unfolding of their psychology.
—Arthur Honegger

Key Points

The symphony was one of the principal instrumental forms of the Classical era.

Quickly ascending rocket themes and steamroller effects (drawn-out crescendos) became standard in the Classical symphony.

The heart of the Classical orchestra (about thirty to forty players) was the strings, assisted by woodwinds, brass, and percussion.

Joseph Haydn wrote over 100 symphonies; among these, his last twelve—the so-called London symphonies, including the Military Symphony (No. 100)—are his masterpieces in the genre.  Haydn is known as the ‘Father of the Symphony.’

Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor, subtitled the Romantic, mingles Classical and Romantic elements.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s music straddles the Classical and Romantic eras. His third symphony is known as the transition point.

Historical Background
The symphony, which held the central place in Classical instrumental music, grew in dimension and significance throughout the era. With the final works of Mozart and Haydn and the nine monumental symphonies by Beethoven, it became the most important type of absolute music.

Rocket theme

Mannheim School
The symphony had its roots in the Italian opera overture of the early eighteenth century, an orchestral piece in three sections: fast-slow-fast. First played to introduce an opera, these sections eventually became separate movements, to which the early German symphonists added a number of effects that were later taken over by the classical masters. One innovation was the use of a quick, aggressively rhythmic theme rising from low to high register with such speed that it became known as a rocket theme (as in Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik). Equally important was the use of drawn-out crescendos (sometimes referred to as a steamroller effect) slowly gathering force as they rose to a climax. Both effects are generally credited to composers active at Mannheim, a German city along the Rhine River. With the addition of the minuet and trio, also a Mannheim contribution, the symphony paralleled the string quartet in following the four-movement multimovement cycle.

THE CLASSICAL ORCHESTRA (30–40 PLAYERS)

The Classical masters established the orchestra as we know it today: as an ensemble of the four instrumental families. The heart of the orchestra was the string family.
Woodwinds provided varying colors and assisted the strings, often doubling them.
The brass sustained the harmonies and contributed body to the sound mass, while the timpani supplied rhythmic life and vitality. The eighteenth-century orchestra numbered from thirty to forty players; thus the volume of sound was still more appropriate for the salon than the concert hall.

Classical composers created a dynamic style of orchestral writing in which all the instruments participated actively and each timbre could be heard. The interchange and imitation of themes among the various instrumental groups assumed the excitement of a witty conversation.

The Movements of the Symphony

First movement

The first movement of a Classical symphony is an Allegro in sonata-allegro form, sometimes preceded by a slow introduction (especially in the symphonies of Haydn). Sonata-allegro form, discussed in a previous Salon, is based on the opposition of two keys, made clearly audible by the contrast between two themes. Haydn, however, sometimes based a sonata-allegro movement on a single theme, which was first heard in the tonic key and then in the contrasting key. Such a movement is referred to as monothematic. Mozart, on the other hand, preferred two themes with maximum contrast, which he achieved in his Symphony No. 40 through varied instrumentation, with the first theme introduced by the strings, and the second by the woodwinds. Beethoven took the art of thematic development to new levels in his Symphony No. 5, creating a unified masterpiece from a small motivic idea.

Second movement

The slow movement of a symphony is often a three-part form (A-B-A)—as we will see in Haydn’s Symphony No. 100. Other typical forms include a theme and variations, or a modified sonata-allegro (without a development section). Generally a Largo, Adagio, or Andante, this movement is in a key other than the tonic, with colorful orchestration that often emphasizes the woodwinds. The mood is lyrical, and there is less development of themes here than in the first movement.

Third movement

Third is the minuet and trio in triple meter, a graceful A-B-A form in the tonic key; as in the string quartet, its tempo is moderate. The trio is gentler in mood, with a moderately flowing melody and a prominent wind timbre. Beethoven’s scherzo (a replacement for the minuet and trio), also in 3/4 time, is taken at a swifter pace.

Fourth movement

The fourth movement (the finale), normally a vivacious Allegro molto or Presto in rondo or sonata-allegro form, is not only faster but also lighter than the first movement and brings the cycle to a spirited ending. Sometimes the fourth movement is transformed into a triumphant finale in sonata-allegro form.

 

Sakura Salon 8/3/14 – Beethoven Symphony #3 “Eroica”

Beethoven’s Third Symphony pushed the art of symphonic writing into a new realm. Consider what the first audience experienced at the premiere of Beethoven’s Third: a work nearly twice as long as symphonies written before it, orchestral writing that pushed the players to the limits of their virtuosic abilities, and a harmonic language that was utterly foreign and complex. Given the context, one can understand why the critical response to the premiere was so mixed. One critic wrote in Leipzig’s Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung: “The reviewer belongs to Herr van Beethoven’s sincerest admirers, but in this composition he must confess that he finds too much that is glaring and bizarre, which hinders greatly one’s grasp of the whole, and a sense of unity is almost completely lost.” The same critic went on to bemoan that the symphony “lasted an entire hour.” Conversely, another patron wrote rather prophetically: “Here is more than Haydn and Mozart; here the symphony-poem is brought to a higher plateau!”

The story of how the Third Symphony received its title, “Eroica” (Heroic), has become famous lore in and of itself. Beethoven had been enamored with Napoleon Bonaparte and his fight against political tyranny and inequality. However, when Napoleon proceeded to appoint himself Emperor, Beethoven, dismayed by the hypocrisy of Napoleon’s own appointment, scratched out the Symphony’s original inscription of “intitolata Bonaparte” with a knife, leaving a large hole on the title page of the original manuscript.  Beethoven instead decided to title the piece Sinfonia eroica (Heroic Symphony), and eventually subtitled the Third Symphony at the time of publishing in 1806: “Sinfonia eroica, composed to celebrate the life of a great man” (conspicuously leaving out any reference to Napoleon). Beethoven’s resentment towards Napoleon seemed to last. Following Napoleon’s victory at Jena in October of 1806, Beethoven boldy proclaimed: “It’s a pity I do not understand the art of war as well as I do the art of music. I would conquer him!”

Though the published inscription signals an intended dedicatee, the Third Symphony can be viewed as Beethoven’s own declarative statement of independence. Beethoven grabs the listener by the lapels from the opening bars of the Allegro con brio, with two bombastic E-flat major chords played by the entire orchestra. The thematic development of the first movement is fascinating – instead of writing grand, soaring melodies, emphasis is placed on the tension and propulsive characteristics of the melodic material. The great British musicologist Donald Francis Tovey wrote that all the themes “can be recognized by their bare rhythm without quoting any melody at all.” Indeed, the first theme presented in the cellos following the declamatory two chords is a simple oscillation back and forth on an E-flat major triad, which is quickly followed by insistent syncopation in the violins, offering a constant sense of motion. In the first movement, Beethoven offers five different thematic ideas that develop and model loosely a theme and variations paradigm. Although the first movement is expansive, it is tightly crafted. One of the more famous (or infamous) moments is the seemingly “wrong” horn entry, four bars before the recapitulation, prompting several critics at the premiere to call Beethoven on his “mistake,” though it was completely intentional.

The emotional core of the symphony is the Marcia funebre (Funeral March). If the funeral march was intended for a particular person, we have no indication (though there is some unsubstantiated speculation that perhaps it was written for the British General Abercrombie, who died heroically at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801).  The climax of the Adagio rests in the massive double fugue, weighted in grief, though ultimately transformed into a statement of triumph. The contrasting Scherzo is fleet, beginning with a tremendously difficult pianissimo staccato passage in the strings, joined by the oboe and flute. Beethoven uses three horns to great effect in the Trio with a folk-like “hunting” theme.

The Finale begins with frenetic energy, before settling into a slew of variations on a theme that Beethoven had used in previous compositions, most notably in his ballet score to The Creatures of Prometheus. In this final movement, Beethoven transforms the primary theme into a broad array of stylistic variations, featuring a robustly complicated fugue, a virtuosic flute solo, and finally, a return to the emotional weight of the second movement, with a transcendent hymn. The coda of the Finale jolts the listener back to earth, and the Symphony concludes with a barn-burning, uninhibited statement of joy.

Sakura Salon 3/30/14 – Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN    1770-1827

 Symphony no. 5 in C minor  Opus 67

There is a difficulty in presenting this piece, since the sheer familiarity of the piece can sometimes be a barrier to the full appreciation of what is, despite everything, still one of the great masterpieces of the early nineteenth century.  Perhaps the answer is to listen, as it were, with fresh ears, and put oneself in the place of the audience at the first performance in December 1808, who, even if they were familiar with the Eroica, must surely have been astonished at the force and compressive power of this awesome vision of triumph over tragedy.

 

I. Allegro con brio    (Fast (march tempo), with spirit)

Da-Da-Da-Dummm….  And so, it begins. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony sounds its hammer blows of fate. Those first notes of Beethoven’s symphony have been heard, interpreted, and explained as many many things…  and more. It’s the single most famous symphonic trajectory of expressive minor-key darkness to coruscating major-key light.

The pounding beats of the first movement’s famous main subject dominate the entire movement to an unprecedented degree, indeed to such an extent that the concentration on rhythmic development derived from this short figure virtually excludes any melodic or textural elaboration at all.

They’re notes that are so familiar that we don’t even hear them properly today. Quite possibly the only life-forms who now really hear the ambiguities in the opening of Beethoven’s 1808 symphony are infants or extra-terrestrials. By this I mean is that this symphony doesn’t begin in C minor – the key it says it’s in on the title page. In fact, it’s not until the four-note rhythm is played a third time that we really know we’re in C minor, rather than what could be E flat major. You see, if you hum the first four pitches of the piece – da-da-da-DUM; da-da-da-DUM, you could still conceivably be listening to a symphony in a major key, if you were next to sing the note of your first “DUM” and harmonise it with a major chord… The point is that this is only the first way that music we take for granted – the single most forceful, electrifying, and recognizable opening to a symphony – is actually much more complex and multi-layered than we realize.

The power, concentration and white-hot compression of Beethoven’s music is staggering. The first movement creates its tumultuous organic chemistry of interrelationships from the particles of the notes it started with; in different guises, the four-note rhythmic idea permeates the rest of the symphony as well; then comes …..

II. Andante com moto (Slower (walking pace) but with motion)

….the elaborate variations of the slow movement, and its teeming effulgence of string writing that is a lyrical, long-breathed structural counterpoint to the first movement’s explosive fragments.

The slow movement is effectively a set of continuous variations, linked by alternating themes.  After the principal subject, which is given out by violas and cellos over a pizzicato bass, the secondary theme begins quietly in the same key (A flat) but after a moment’s hesitation suddenly breaks out triumphantly into C major.  Psychologically this is of great significance since this is destined to be both the mood and key of the all-important last movement.

 

III. Allegro

The scherzo is one of Beethoven’s most obvious borrowings from Mozart: he quotes and subtly transforms the opening of the finale of Mozart’s 40th Symphony to create his own theme; and out of this world of shadows the horns blare out another version of the 3+1 rhythmic idea, this time reduced to a single pitch.

No break, and an incredible transition into …..

 

IV. Allegro 

The transition from the scherzo to the finale is one of the dramatic masterstrokes of orchestral music. From the mist of desolate memories of the scherzo’s opening theme, underscored by the timpani’s ominous heartbeat, the violins’ arpeggios climb until they reach a tremolo, a crescendo and a blaze of unadulterated C major glory – and the start of the finale, with its trombones, piccolo, and contrabassoon, all held in reserve by Beethoven until this climactic movement.

The brilliant finale, with its additional piccalo and trombones (used for the first time in a symphony) resolves all uncertainties, with the recall of the scherzo material before the recapitulation providing final evidence of the interrelationship between the movements.  This is indeed, to use Paul Bekker’s term, a “finale-symphony”, one in which the earlier movements lead inexorably to the C major finale as the triumphant culmination of the work;  with it the concept of the symphony is notably extended.

Sakura Salon – Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony 1/5/14

Throughout his career, Beethoven was a fervent believer in Enlightenment values and found ways to express those beliefs in many of his compositions, as well as in his letters and other writings. One of the reasons for the nearly universal appeal of his Ninth Symphony is that people enjoying or seeking freedom see this work as exquisitely expressing a message they wish loudly to proclaim. And that message is simple, almost embarrassingly naïve, one we learn as children: People should get along, we are all brothers and sisters.

As a child of the Enlightenment, Beethoven grew up during the American and French revolutions. He later followed political events closely in the newspapers and experienced war first hand when Napoleon’s troops invaded Vienna in 1805 and 1809. Beethoven’s first large composition, written at the age of 19, was an impressive 40-minute cantata commemorating the death of Emperor Joseph II, who had done so much to liberalize the Austrian empire in the 1780s. Years later, Beethoven struggled to write his lone opera, “Fidelio,” which tells the story of a loving wife saving her husband, an unjustly jailed political prisoner. Through her heroic deeds he is rescued and tyranny exposed.

For his last symphony, Beethoven returned to a lengthy poem by Friedrich Schiller that he had long wanted to set to music but for which he had never quite managed to find the right mode of expression: the “Ode to Joy” (1785). Schiller’s famous words state that in a new age the old ways will no longer divide people and that “all men shall become brothers.” Since its premiere in Vienna in May 1824, performances of the Ninth Symphony have become almost sacramental occasions, as musicians and audiences alike are exhorted to universal fraternity.

On a more purely musical level, perhaps no other piece of music has exerted such an impact on later composers. How, many wondered, should one write a symphony after the Ninth? Schubert, Berlioz, Brahms, Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler—the list goes on—all dealt with this question in fascinating ways that fundamentally affected the course of 19th-century music.

But composers were not the only ones to become deeply engaged with the Ninth, to struggle with its import and meaning. For more than a century, the work has surfaced at crucial times and places. As the ultimate “feel good” piece, the Ninth has been used at various openings of the Olympic Games, bringing all nations together in song. Its melody is the official anthem of the European Union. The Ninth has also appeared on many solemn occasions. Within recent memory, we may recall protestors playing the Ninth in Tiananmen Square in Beijing or German students doing so during the fall of the Berlin Wall. There were many performances in the wake of 9/11, when the Ninth was once again enlisted for its universal and hopeful message.

In a penetrating essay, “Resisting the Ninth,” music historian Richard Taruskin has pointed to ways in which some musicians and listeners have resisted the Ninth Symphony, embarrassed by what they consider its naive optimism. This Symphony, Taruskin states, “is among connoisseurs preeminently the Piece You Love to Hate, no less now than a century and a half ago. Why? Because it is at once incomprehensible and irresistible, and because it is at once awesome and naive.”

Those who revere the Ninth Symphony may be surprised to hear that some have resisted it now or at any time. Undoubtedly its message has been “neutered”: over-performed, trivialized in movies and TV commercials, and often treated by musicians in purely musical terms rather than in humanistic ones. For some modern listeners, Taruskin argues, its message may be difficult to take seriously anymore: “We have our problems with demagogues who preach to us about the brotherhood of man. We have been too badly burned by those who have promised Elysium and given us gulags and gas chambers.”

Yet Beethoven understood that great works of art matter, in part because they constitute a threat to tyrants and terrorists. We should not, however, retreat into artistic masterpieces solely for comfort, nor separate them from life. Beethoven strove for ways to express a deeply felt political vision. The students in Beijing and Berlin, and the many others who have appropriated the Ninth Symphony, recognize the urgency of its message.

A Closer Look
The opening of the first movement (Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso) grows out of a void. Against the murmurings of the low strings emerge falling fifths in the violins that grow to a loud and imposing first theme; it has all been likened to the creation of the world and certainly no symphony before had sounded anything like it.

Beethoven switched the expected order of movements (another trait later composers would imitate) by placing the scherzo (Molto vivace) next. A favorite with audiences from the beginning (especially the prominent role given to the timpani), it projects both humor and power.

The lyrical slow movement (Adagio molto e cantabile) explores more personal, even spiritual realms.

The Presto finale opens with what Wagner called the “terror fanfare,” a dissonant and frantic passage that leads to a “recitative” (so marked in the score) for the cellos and basses. Fragments from the previous three movements pass in review—a few measures of the opening theme of each—but are rejected by the strings. After this strange, extended recitative comes the aria: the famous “Ode to Joy” melody (imitated by Brahms in his First Symphony) to which later will be added words. After some seven minutes the movement starts over again—the “terror fanfare” returns, but this time is followed by a vocal recitative with the bass soloist singing “O friends, not these tones. But rather, let us strike up more pleasant and more joyful ones.” The chorus and four vocal soloists take up the “joy” theme, which undergoes a continuing series of variations, including a brief section in the Turkish manner. The music reaches a climax with a new theme: “Be embraced, ye millions! … Brothers, above the starry canopy there must dwell a loving Father,” which is later combined in counterpoint with the joy theme and eventually builds to a frenzied coda.

Lyrics to Symphony 9 (op. 125) :

(German, than English)

“AN DIE FREUDE”

BASS
O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere
anstimmen und freudenvollere.
Freude! Freude!

BASS
Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!

BASS und CHOR
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

SOLISTEN
Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein;
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!

SOLISTEN und CHOR
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer’s nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!

SOLISTEN
Freude trinken alle Wesen
An den Brüsten der Natur;
Alle Guten, alle Bösen
Folgen ihrer Rosenspur.

SOLISTEN und CHOR
Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
Und der Cherub steht vor Gott.

TENOR und CHOR
Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels prächt’gen Plan,
Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.

CHOR
Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!

Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

CHOR
Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über’m Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.

Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such’ ihn über’m Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muß er wohnen.

CHOR
Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!

Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!

Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such’ ihn über’m Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muß er wohnen

SOLOISTEN und CHOR
Tachter aus Elysium
Deine Zauber binden wieder,
Was die Mode streng getheit,
Alle Menschen warden Brüder
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt

CHOR
Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über’m Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.

Seid umschlungen,
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Freude, schöner Götterfunken

“TO JOY”

BASS
Oh friends, not these sounds,
rather let us strike up
more pleasing and joyful ones!
Joy! Joy!

BASS
Joy, lovely divine spark,
Daughter from Elysium,
drunk with ardour we approach,
O heavenly one, your sanctuary.

BASS and CHOIR
Your magic re-unites
what custom sternly separated;
all men shall be brothers
wherever your gentle wings tarry.

SOLOIST
He who has the great luck
of being a friend to a friend,
whosoever has won a dear wife,
let him mingle his joy with ours

SOLOIST and CHOIR
Yes and he too who has one spirit
on the face of the earth to call his own!
And he who cannot do so, let him steal
weeping from this assembly.

SOLOIST
All creation drinks joy
from the breasts of nature;
all the good and all the bad
follows in her rosy path.

SOLOIST and CHOIR
Kisses she gave to us and wine,
and a friend tried in death;
even to a worm ecstasy is granted,
even the cherubs stand before God.

TENOR and CHOIR
Just as gladly as His suns fly
through the mighty path of heaven,
so, brothers, run your course
joyfully, like a hero off to victory.

CHOIR
Joy, lovely divine spark,
Daughter from Elysium,
drunk with ardour we approach,
O heavenly one, your sanctuary.

Your magic re-unites
what custom sternly separated,
all men shall be brothers
wherever you gentle wings tarry.

CHOIR
O you millions, let me embrace you.
Let this kiss be for the whole world.
Brothers, above the tent of stars
A loving Father cannot but dwell

Do you prostrate yourselves millions?
Do you sense your Creator, world?
Seek Him above the tent of stars!
Above the stars he cannot but dwell.

CHOIR
O you millions, let me embrace you.
Let this kiss be for the whole world.

Joy, lovely divine spark,
Daughter from Elysium,
drunk with ardor we approach,
O heavenly one, your sanctuary.

Do you prostrate yourselves millions?
Do you sense your Creator, world?
Seek Him above the tent of stars!
Above the stars he cannot dwell.

SOLOIST AND CHOIR
Daughter from Elysium
your magic re-unites
what caution sternly separated;
all men shall be brothers
wherever your gentle wings tarry

CHOIR
O you millions, let me embrace you
Let this kiss be for the whole world.
Brothers, above the tent of stars
a loving Father cannot but dwell.

O you millions, let me embrace you.
Let this kiss be for the whole world.
Joy, lovely divine spark,
Daughter from Elysium.
Joy, lovely divine spark.

Sakura Salon – Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony 11/17/13

udwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 may be somewhat less omnipresent in popular culture than the Fifth or the Ninth, but it is a masterpiece nonetheless. Beethoven is known for his obsessive treatment of rhythm, and this work in particular overflows with rhythmic drive. Written in 1811, it premiered as part of a charity concert in 1813.

Later writers characterized the Seventh Symphony in various ways, but it is striking how many of the descriptions touch on its frenzy, approaching a bacchanal at times, and on its elements of dance. Richard Wagner’s poetic account is well known: “All tumult, all yearning and storming of the heart, become here the blissful insolence of joy, which carries us away with bacchanalian power through the roomy space of nature, through all the streams and seas of life, shouting in glad self-consciousness as we sound throughout the universe the daring strains of this human sphere-dance. The Symphony is the Apotheosis of the Dance itself: it is Dance in its highest aspect, the loftiest deed of bodily motion, incorporated into an ideal mold of tone.”

Many of the descriptions of this symphony focus on dance – is it a dance like a waltz or minuet? Not at all – but Beethoven’s genius in this is the incredible rhythmic vitality of the entire work. The drive of this symphony rarely stops. This is Beethoven, the ‘rock star’ of classical music.

The first movement begins with the longest introduction in all symphonic literature, traveling through what at the time were unique harmonic key relationships (what are F Major and C Major doing in a piece ostensibly in A Major?) until he settles on an unlikely transition to the main theme – alternating E’s between the flute and strings, until finally we dive headlong into the Vivace.

The second movement is heartbreakingly beautiful and, unusual for a slow movement, was given an immediate encore at the symphony’s premiere. This work was later substituted in performances of other Beethoven symphonies throughout the century due to its popularity.

After the Allegretto, the Presto bursts into life. This has all the racing momentum of a typical Beethoven scherzo. It is twice interrupted by a slower Trio section (with another version of the long–short–short rhythmic pattern in its main theme) and yet its vitality seems irrepressible: a third and final attempt to establish the slower Trio theme is magnificently dismissed by five crisp orchestral chords. This scherzo is, however, in the ‘wrong’ key – the destabilising F major.

It is now the finale’s task to ram home the symphony’s tonic key, A major. The result is a magnificent bacchanal, pounding almost to a frenzy at the symphony’s seminal rhythmic pattern: long–short–short. The final build-up culminates in two huge full-orchestra climaxes, both marked triple forte – fff – the first time such an extreme dynamic had been used in orchestral music, and entirely appropriate for an ending that is both logical and dazzlingly affirmative.