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Thread: Beethoven: Symphony #5 in C minor, op. 67

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    .....there was something blue-collar in the best sense of the word about his developmental genius where he was willing to put in the time and effort to bring each work to its ultimate conclusion.
    Did you ever see Bernstein's presentation on LvB #5 - he makes essentially the same point...It's been many years since I've seen ot, but I remember it well - he presented all of Beethoven's discarded sketches of the coda to Sym 5/mvt I... of course, he discarded all of them 'til he got it right, and that's what we hear today....Lenny's point was that Beethoven worked it out, went thru many different ideas, but always came up with the right one. There's a final, inevitability, about Beethoven...he's always going to bring it home...

    Look at the Leonore overtures -
    #1 - is really inconsequential, a blow off
    #2 - getting there - very passionate, dramatic, but structurally unfocused, great content, form is not concise at all.
    #3 - form and content brilliantly combined - a great masterpiece, a towering, dramatic orchestral showpiece...

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  3. #32
    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    Did you ever see Bernstein's presentation on LvB #5 - he makes essentially the same point...It's been many years since I've seen ot, but I remember it well - he presented all of Beethoven's discarded sketches of the coda to Sym 5/mvt I... of course, he discarded all of them 'til he got it right, and that's what we hear today....Lenny's point was that Beethoven worked it out, went thru many different ideas, but always came up with the right one. There's a final, inevitability, about Beethoven...he's always going to bring it home...
    Here's Bernstein's lecture on Beethoven's 5th on Omnibus, ca 1950. I think this is the one you refer to. Good stuff!

    Last edited by KenOC; Jan-13-2019 at 02:54.


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  5. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    Here's Bernstein's lecture on Beethoven's 5th on Omnibus, ca 1950. I think this is the one you refer to. Good stuff!
    Yes, he went thru all the discarded versions of #5/I coda.....the final one was obviously the best, the right one....
    Last edited by Heck148; Jan-13-2019 at 03:04.

  6. #34
    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    One fun fact about this symphony is that it's one of the classical pieces that use the golden ratio:

    "In 1978, Derek Haylock argued about the presence of the golden section in the first movement of Beethoven’s fifth. Claiming that the opening motto occurs exactly at the golden mean point of 0.618, namely in bar 372 of 601. What’s more, the coda is 129 bars long, and, if you divide it using the golden section, you get 49:80. After the first 49 bars of the coda, Beethoven actually introduces a completely new tune that has not appeared in the movement so far, a real first in the history of classical music composition."
    https://www.cmuse.org/classical-piec...-golden-ratio/
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; Jan-13-2019 at 03:09.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    Did you ever see Bernstein's presentation on LvB #5 - he makes essentially the same point...It's been many years since I've seen ot, but I remember it well - he presented all of Beethoven's discarded sketches of the coda to Sym 5/mvt I... of course, he discarded all of them 'til he got it right, and that's what we hear today....Lenny's point was that Beethoven worked it out, went thru many different ideas, but always came up with the right one. There's a final, inevitability, about Beethoven...he's always going to bring it home...

    Look at the Leonore overtures -
    #1 - is really inconsequential, a blow off
    #2 - getting there - very passionate, dramatic, but structurally unfocused, great content, form is not concise at all.
    #3 - form and content brilliantly combined - a great masterpiece, a towering, dramatic orchestral showpiece...
    But that's NOT the order he wrote them in. The first version was what is now known as #2. The famous and popular #3 is actually the second version. The next revision, the third version, is called #1. Then came the Fidelio Overture. BTW, #3 is a s.o.b. to play. Thrilling it is, but so difficult for the orchestra.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    But that's NOT the order he wrote them in. The first version was what is now known as #2. The famous and popular #3 is actually the second version. The next revision, the third version, is called #1. Then came the Fidelio Overture. BTW, #3 is a s.o.b. to play. Thrilling it is, but so difficult for the orchestra.
    yes, i know the order is different chronologically - but creatively, #3 is the culmination...."Fidelio" is very good also, but nothing touches #3....it is a b^tch to play - lots of audition licks in there!!

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    Senior Member science's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judith View Post
    Programme recently on BBC about this symphony and what was going on in his mind when he composed it. Some people thought it was to do with the French Revolution at the time, but I'm going with the theory of him being frustrated at going deaf, as the first few notes reflect. What does anyone else think? The whole symphony was shown performed by "Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique" using the original instruments of the time and was conducted by John Eliot Gardiner.
    This is from an old thread on this work. I thought it might be interesting to provoke a bit of discussion here too...

    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    By framing the problem of interpreting the Fifth Symphony as primarily one of programmatic music versus pure or absolute music we (meaning you , that is, most posters upthread) are perpetuating a more than two-century old mistake. As several prominent musical narrative theorists have recently argued, what Beethoven accomplishes in the Fifth is something far more subtle, universal and important than hiding a specific program or story in its structure. What he did, they argue, was successfully apply a new formal principle: using an abstract plot structure, that is, one without any specific referents in the real world, to solve the most important formal problem facing him: how to convincingly unify highly expressive multimovement works from beginning to end. The purely technical part of the solution is obvious: bring back or transform the themes of earlier movements in the finale and elsewhere, a procedure commonly called cyclic structure. The Fifth Symphony is one of the first works of Beethoven to do this systematically. But if ones opening movement is unique and strikingly expressive, as in the Fifth, truly effective unity requires that the later movements respond not only to its technical elements, but to its expressive dimension as well. Beethoven's solution, the narrativists argue, was to organize the thematic reprises and transformations entailed in cyclic structure according to a comprehensive expressive plan, what they would call an abstract plot structure.

    The elements of this plot structure are (1) an overall progression from stormy music in the minor mode in the first movement to the triumphant, exuberant music of a major mode finale, which by convention is heard as a move from a negative expressive state to a positive one — something like anguish to joy, despair to hope, dark to light, sickness to health, whatever. (2) Reprising in the finale material recalling the dark first movement, as in the da-da-da-dum second subject of the scherzo, to both threaten a return to the initial negative state of the first movement and to emphasize the trajectory toward the light embodied in the themes of the finale. In this way Beethoven makes the finale respond to the expressive character of the first movement, thus simultaneously rounding off the structure through a grand thematic recapitulation while imposing a satisfying expressive resolution.

    The abstract "plot" of the Fifth, that is, roughly, dark to light with a threat of reversal in the finale, is so general that it could accommodate any number of real-world stories. This storied quality in its structure is why listeners and critics, probably including whoever wrote the BBC program mentioned above, have for centuries been deceived into thinking that it must have been intended to express some specific program. I think the Fifth does have great human significance, but trying to reduce this significance to a specific program or biographically based story cheapens the work, dragging the universal down to a mundane level.
    Last edited by science; Jan-13-2019 at 11:23.
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  10. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
    Speaking as an orchestral player: this symphony is over-played, and often done badly. I play it far more often than any of the others. And yet, every time it comes up it's a marvel to play. Not a wasted note, the parts are all exciting and interesting to play. It remains ever-fresh and that's something that cannot be said of repeatedly playing other composer's symphonies. Audiences never tire of it either. It is indestructible although I've played it with more than one conductor who did their best; it's astonishing how many baton wielders cannot manage the beginning and can't manage the transition from III to IV adequately.

    Why is it so popular? It's exciting! Full of electricity - but not for conductors who fail to heed Beethoven's fast, and correct, tempi.
    There's another POV from a different thread.

    And from a time when people were still unembarrassed to promote Kleiber:

    Quote Originally Posted by DiesIraeCX View Post
    There is an absolute wealth of great Beethoven 5th recording. There is no definitive recording, but a very highly regarded (and rightly so!) recording is Carlos Kleiber's. It's a great place to start! Good luck.

    For "apocalyptic aural destruction", Furtwangler might be your best bet.
    Last edited by science; Jan-13-2019 at 11:26.
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    Senior Member Pat Fairlea's Avatar
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    My introduction to Beethoven's 5th was via a cheap LP recording of the Pittsburgh SO conducted by William Steinberg. I no longer have the LP, but from memory it was a fairly full-blooded, energetic performance and that's still how I prefer to hear this symphony. Furtwangler may have coaxed subtleties out of it, and Klemperer's versions were delicately nuanced, but I really think that can be overdone. Like B's 7th symphony, this one overflows with life and energy.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    One can see Beethoven’s thematic development as well as hear it—a picture is worth a 1000 motifs:

    Last edited by Larkenfield; Jan-14-2019 at 00:43.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Fairlea View Post
    My introduction to Beethoven's 5th was via a cheap LP recording of the Pittsburgh SO conducted by William Steinberg.
    Hey, me too! I got it in the bargain bin at Tower Records back when I was a starving student. I need to dig that out and hear it again now that I am "sophisticated."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manxfeeder View Post
    Hey, me too! I got it in the bargain bin at Tower Records back when I was a starving student. I need to dig that out and hear it again now that I am "sophisticated."
    if it's the one on Command LP, it is very good!! tmk, never issued on cd

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