703 Davis St. Unit A
Symphony No. 9 in D Minor
Symphony No. 9 in D minor was composed by Beethoven over a period of two years from 1822 to 1824. It is widely regarded as one of Beethoven’s best-known works and remains one of the most performed symphonies in the world. One thing that separates symphony no. 9 from other symphonies is that it was the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony (otherwise known as a choral symphony) . The only words to the symphony were sung during the final movement by four vocalists and a chorus.
After the completion of symphony No. 9, the symphony was premiered in Vienna at the Theater am Karntnertor and involved the largest orchestra ever assembled by Beethoven. Sisters Henriette Sontag and Caroline Unger sang the soprano and alto parts, whereas Anton Haizinger and Joseph Seipelt sang the tenor and bass parts (respectively) . While it was reported by some participants that the symphony seemed under rehearsed, the piece was widely applauded.
Symphony No. 9 was written in four movements, with the first being in sonata form without an exposition repeat. It began with open fifths played pianissimo by tremolo strings, before steadily building until the first main theme. The structure of it was in Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso . The second movement was a scherzo and trio. While Beethoven wrote this piece in triple time, he punctuated it in a way that made it sound as if it were in quadruple time. The second movement of symphony No. 9 typically lasted about 12 minutes, depending on whether the repeats were played, and consisted of molto vivace and presto. The third movement was in double variation form and a typical performance lasted about 16 minutes . Its structure consisted of adagio molto e cantabile, andante moderato, tempo I, adagio, and lo stesso tempo . Lastly, the fourth and final movement was based primarily upon “Ode to Joy” and was written in theme and variations form. The longest in length, the fourth movement typically lasted 24 minutes. As they neared the end of the movement, the choir sang the last four lines of the main theme, before the soloists sang at a slower tempo. The structure for the final movement consisted of presto, allegro assai, alla marcia, andante maestoso, allegro energico, allegro ma non tanto, and prestissimo . The instrumentation used for symphony No. 9 included 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, the piccolo, 2 bassoons, a contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, the timpani, the bass drum, the triangle, the cymbals, violins, violas, cellos, double basses, and a choir consisting of sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses .
One of the many reasons why I like symphony No. 9 is because of its incredible build over time. It draws the audience in and captures their attention. I also appreciate the grand blend of instrumentation and how each instrument is used to compliment another, as well as how the chorus is used to strengthen the final movement. I believe that Beethoven’s background also played a role in why I liked this piece. When it was composed, Beethoven hadn’t performed on-stage in over ten years. He was nearly deaf, yet still managed to compose one of the most brilliant musical masterpieces of all time and conduct it on stage in Vienna. His passion for music came through in every note written and performed. I believe that the challenges he faced when composing this particular piece when writing it is one of the many things I admire about this symphony. He faced incredible and seemingly impossible odds, yet faced them head-on. Because of this, he was able to compose a masterful and brilliant piece of art. For these reasons, I greatly appreciate listening to symphony No. 9.
Another reason that I appreciate listening to symphony No. 9 is because of its movements and how each one plays off of the previous. From the sonata form in movement one to the scherzo in movement two, each movement flows flawlessly into the next. For these reasons, Beethoven’s symphony No. 9 in D minor is my most favorite piece of classical music.