Monday, 8 December 2014

Beethoven’s 7th


Symphony, that is. Everyone knows the opening bars of the 5th, and the melody of the vocal part of the 9th. The 3rd or ‘Eroica’ is popular; it’s interesting that in general it’s the odd-numbered symphonies that are now best known, the only exception to that being the 6th or ‘Pastoral’.

The 7th is I suppose my favourite if one must have favourites, and I mention it today because among the many things that happened on this day in other years the really important one was the first performance, in 1813.

Beethoven had great difficulty with, among other things, counterpoint, and believed he was no good at it. The slow movement, a sort of canon with variations, of the 7th shows him to have been, at least this time, very good indeed at counterpoint. Here is a very short extract from the score. The other instruments are silent here (Well, I seem to remember the timpani gently boinging along): just the second violins, violas, ’cellos and double-basses are playing:

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