View Poll Results: Which is Your Favorite?

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  • Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major “Eroica”

    27 36.99%
  • Symphony No. 5 in C Minor

    14 19.18%
  • Symphony No. 9 in D Minor “Choral”

    32 43.84%
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Thread: Beethoven’s “Big Three”

  1. #31
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    Hmmm..actually, for me, it's Big 4...#7 gets in there....

    Performance-wise, for me -
    I've played #5 the most times, then
    #7...
    #3 and #9 about the same number of times - lots....but not as many as 5, 7.

    Which is my favorite?? depends on what day of the week it is, and the mood I might be in....
    Last edited by Heck148; May-23-2020 at 00:32.

  2. #32
    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by consuono View Post
    The third is the only one on that group I'd put in a "top three". My top three are the 3rd, 6th and 7th. Well, overall 3rd-6th-7th-8th-4th-9th-5th-2nd-1st. The 9th fell a little on my horizon once I became acquainted with the Missa solemnis. The 5th has simply been overplayed. The 6th almost as much, but still.
    Pretty much agree, although I wouldn't say the reason the 5th isn't as good is because it's overplayed. The reason it's not as good to me is because it's pretty simplistic to begin with. It wins the popularity vote, but I don't see it beating the 6th or 3rd in quality, or even Mozart's 40th.
    Last edited by Ethereality; May-23-2020 at 00:49.

  3. #33
    Senior Member Allerius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
    Pretty much agree, although I wouldn't say the reason the 5th isn't as good is because it's overplayed. The reason it's not as good to me is because it's pretty simplistic to begin with. It wins the popularity vote, but I don't see it beating the 6th or 3rd in quality, or even Mozart's 40th. And Beethoven's 6th is like quintessential Tier 1 music to me.
    It's not "simplistic" at all. It has beautiful counterpoint (including the famous fugal passage in the trio of the third movement), it has intense dynamic contrasts, it makes a brilliant and exploratory use of instrumentation (particularly in the second movement, also remarkable for being in double variation form). It is the first symphony to use trombones. There are sophisticated links in thematic material occuring throughout the entire symphony, and there's the famous quote of the scherzo in the finale (first time in a symphony). The formal display of the fifth, giving great weight to the final movement (atypically linked to the third) is also remarkable. Other than that, it may be one of the most important examples of a work of the classical period using the golden ratio.

    Overplayed maybe, and no one has to like it, but simplistic Beethoven's fifth symphony is not.
    Last edited by Allerius; May-23-2020 at 01:42.
    “To do good whenever one can, to love liberty above all else, never to deny the truth, even though it be before the throne.” - Ludwig van Beethoven.

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  5. #34
    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allerius View Post
    there's the famous quote of the scherzo in the finale (first time in a symphony).
    Yes, that is interesting, but I'll also suggest everyone to take a look at this particular case in the minuet and finale of Mozart 41th symphony if they haven't already.

    Quote Originally Posted by Allerius View Post
    Other than that, it may be one of the most important examples of a work of the classical period using the golden ratio.
    Interestingly, some speculate that Mozart's sonatas generally tend toward this "golden ratio" of 0.618. (I'm just saying this, as a fun fact)
    For example, Mozart's piano sonatas:
    E = number of measures in the exposition
    D = number of measures in the development+recapitulation
    No. 1, K.279 1st movement { E = 38 | D = 62 }
    E/(D+E) = 0.620
    No. 16, K.570 1st movement { E = 79 | D = 130 }
    E/(D+E) = 0.622
    No. 7, K.309 1st movement { E = 59 | D = 97 }
    E/(D+E) = 0.622
    No. 15, K.545 1st movement { E = 28 | D = 45 }
    E/(D+E) = 0.616
    No. 10, K.330 1st movement { E = 57 | D = 92 }
    E/(D+E) = 0.617
    No. 2, K.280 1st movement { E = 52 | D = 88 }
    E/(D+E) = 0.611
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; May-23-2020 at 01:57.

  6. #35
    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allerius View Post
    It's not "simplistic" at all. It has beautiful counterpoint (including the famous fugal passage in the trio of the third movement), it has intense dynamic contrasts, it makes a brilliant and exploratory use of instrumentation (particularly in the second movement, also remarkable for being in double variation form). It is the first symphony to use trombones. There are sophisticated links in thematic material occuring throughout the entire symphony, and there's the famous quote of the scherzo in the finale (first time in a symphony). The formal display of the fifth, giving great weight to the final movement (atypically linked to the third) is also remarkable. Other than that, it may be one of the most important examples of a work of the classical period using the golden ratio.

    Overplayed maybe, and no one has to like it, but simplistic Beethoven's fifth symphony is not.
    While that may be so, it still sounds quite simplistic to me. This is perhaps the most famous work of Beethoven's, yet to me he has done so much better. One aspect I do like about the 5th however is the sole focus on thematic sequence. It achieves an efficient balance and length without wasting notes and time.
    Last edited by Ethereality; May-23-2020 at 02:35.

  7. #36
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    I don't have a favorite of these three, and I certainly wouldn't presume to say which of them is "best." The "Eroica" retains its nobility, its unprecedented scope, and its revolutionary power, the 5th is astonishing for its concision, unity and and dramatic force, the 9th is overwhelming and sublimely crazy as the late quartets are sublimely crazy - and the "Pastoral" is a vision of heaven on earth and shouldn't be omitted from the Big Four. And then there's that 7th... I would presume to say that they all sit comfortably on the summit of Symphony Mountain, and they don't have a lot of company, though there are many great works on the ledge just below them.

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  9. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
    While that may be so, it still sounds quite simplistic to me. This is perhaps the most famous work of Beethoven's, yet to me he has done so much better. One aspect I do like about the 5th however is the sole focus on thematic sequence. It achieves an efficient balance and length without wasting notes and time.
    Seems to me you are comparing the 5th as it should be another kind of symphony. To me, it is the most perfect symphony he wrote and I accept it as is. It is a work like so many others that you know no one could even imagine such a work unless it was LVB, nuff said.

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  11. #38
    Senior Member Ethereality's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigbang View Post
    It is a work like so many others that you know no one could even imagine such a work unless it was LVB, nuff said.
    What's apparent to me is no one seems to try. It always goes in some, more untamed direction. I have an easier time picturing another symphony no.5 than say a 3 or 6. But it's because the structure of the 5th is laid out very apparently. What's more apparent in symphony 3 and 6, is his motifs don't make any sense, yet he paints them in a way to show that they do. His goal was to expand the central purpose of the orchestra to give meaning to the underlying composition. A marriage between classicism and atmosphere. It was much more of a feat, in my eyes, but required both parts. The first movement of symphony 5 is made up of a couple catchy standalone motifs with some modulations in between. It's an easier structure to follow because the melodies don't demand much variation nor progression. You're not working with advanced complexity, but you need to have a solid craft. Beethoven wasn't reaching far and wide for an inspirational journey this time; he had an excellent grounds for motif to implant. If Beethoven is the only one who desires to write such a work, then in that case I give him loads of props. Never doubted that. It would take anyone else much more patience, as you're numbing your own (ugly) self-expression for the better good.
    Last edited by Ethereality; May-23-2020 at 04:31.

  12. #39
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    I voted the Ninth Symphony because it reaffirms humanity for me in times when I feel like I no longer have any reason to believe in humanity and just listening to the last movement is enough to make me want to cry. And for me, there is no greater power in music than to do exactly that.
    Last edited by Air; May-23-2020 at 07:27.
    "Summit or death, either way, I win" ~R. Schumann

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  14. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
    What's apparent to me is no one seems to try. It always goes in some, more untamed direction. I have an easier time picturing another symphony no.5 than say a 3 or 6. But it's because the structure of the 5th is laid out very apparently. What's more apparent in symphony 3 and 6, is his motifs don't make any sense, yet he paints them in a way to show that they do. His goal was to expand the central purpose of the orchestra to give meaning to the underlying composition. A marriage between classicism and atmosphere. It was much more of a feat, in my eyes, but required both parts. The first movement of symphony 5 is made up of a couple catchy standalone motifs with some modulations in between. It's an easier structure to follow because the melodies don't demand much variation nor progression. You're not working with advanced complexity, but you need to have a solid craft. Beethoven wasn't reaching far and wide for an inspirational journey this time; he had an excellent grounds for motif to implant. If Beethoven is the only one who desires to write such a work, then in that case I give him loads of props. Never doubted that. It would take anyone else much more patience, as you're numbing your own (ugly) self-expression for the better good.
    I know Beethoven admired Handel as a composer who could achieve much effects with little means. I have heard this about Beethoven in a number of works or passages (diabelli variations--some claim greatest piano work) but I am still not sure of your point? I am guessing you are not a fan of the work as some other symphonies. The thing is Beethoven was always the revolutionary, and was composing in his time period. Obviously he was not thinking about how the music would sound on cd, and how it would be compared to all the other music of the future. I guess my point is I do not get involved in detailed analysis on stuff like this but I am wondering if you have read any analysis of symphony of no 5 as you put it? I have always read positive comments about this symphony. And, to me, this is a symphony for special occasions, like the 9th, can wear you down with too much repeated listening though that would be variable for everyone.
    Last edited by Bigbang; May-24-2020 at 14:23.

  15. #41
    Senior Member Bourdon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air View Post
    I voted the Ninth Symphony because it reaffirms humanity for me in times when I feel like I no longer have any reason to believe in humanity and just listening to the last movement is enough to make me want to cry. And for me, there is no greater power in music than to do exactly that.
    To break the inner walls just by beauty.

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  17. #42
    Senior Member Pat Fairlea's Avatar
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    I voted for the 5th out of those three, but what about the 7th? That would be my first choice out of the nine. Not for any technical musical reasons: just because however often I listen to it, it fully engages my attention and leaves me feeling a little better about life.

  18. #43
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    I voted for the 3rd. Taking into account the average length of a symphony at that time could anyone else have managed one this long without making it sound rambling or repetitive? Each time I listen to the 3rd it seems a much shorter listen than it actually is - all killer, no filler.
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

    ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνῄσκει νέος [Those whom the gods love die young] - Menander

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  20. #44
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    My appreciation for Beethoven’s symphonies highly depends on performances. The only set I listened to for a while when I was starting out was Harnoncourt, and I was like “meh, kinda boring.” Then I heard the old masters like Furtwangler, Toscanini and Klemperer and top-notch cycles like Blomstedt/Dresden and Kletzki/Czech Phil, and it was like rediscovering Beethoven for the first time. I need this music to have weight, trajectory, and musicianship that makes something meaningful out of every phrase! Yesterday I listened to Scherchen’s Eroica which came in second on Trout’s recommended recording list. That’s an example of the kind of performance that turns me off Beethoven. If the scrappy orchestra can’t play that fast without making egregious mistakes every minute, why play it that fast? I know some people say their opinion isn’t changed by performances, but I don’t see how you couldn’t have at least some sort of differing sensation when you listen to Scherchen’s Eroica vs., say, Barbirolli’s.
    My blog, for everyone interested in reading my ramblings.

    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

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