Ludwig Van Beethoven's Symphony

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Ludwig van Beethoven was born in December 1770 to a musical family living in Bonn, Germany. Although he and his family celebrated his birthday on 16 December, there is no evidence to suggest that this was his exact date of birth, with only the registry of his baptism on the 17th serving as the commonly accepted birth date of this legendary composer.

As a child, Beethoven was musically trained by his father and later by other local musicians. His talent was evident from a young age and, exploited by his father as a child prodigy, he made his first public performance at the age of 7 (he was advertised as being 6) in March 1778. Soon after, Ludwig went on to work as the Court’s Organist where his talents were recognised and encouraged. In March
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Romantic
1817-1827: The establishment of new forms and a personal style which was much more Romantic on paper and in feel. Symphony No. 9 7
Beethoven is known as the developer of the symphony. His extensive development of musical material, themes and motifs usually by modulation resulted in his works being very long and expressive. He also continued to expand the “development” section of his works, adding not only length but also substance.8 This essay will set out to discuss the aspects of the symphony that Beethoven developed with regards to: the programmatic aspects of his symphonies, which instruments he used/added to the symphony (instrumentation), the structure of the symphony, his use of forms and how he used his instruments (orchestration).

Programmatic aspects of his symphonies

Programme music is purely instrumental (without words) music which is based on an extra-musical stimulus and a programme symphony is a symphony which has a programme. The whole work usually has a subtitle and sometimes each movement has a subtitle as well.9 Programme elements can be seen in Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony (Eroica) which is associated with the concept of heroism, his 5th Symphony which can be seen as an overcoming of his fate (deafness) and the 6th Symphony (Pastoral) which has a subtitle for each movement.7 Beethoven said of his 6th that the “work can be perceived without description”, because it clearly has depictions of bird calls, a river, a storm
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