Beethoven was a remarkable composer of the 19th Century.Despite his hearing problem, he was still among the best of thattime. His last Symphony is famously referred to as the icing on thecake of Beethoven’s musical career. I would not agree any less. Thecomposer is still respected years after his demise because of theninth symphony. Not many of his colleagues are remembered. In fact,if you asked me to name three other great composers of his time,honestly I would have to take time and research.
What I loved most about this piece is the high level of creativitytherein. Beethoven decided to go away from the norm. He took a bigrisk and it paid off immensely. During his time, symphonies did nothave voices to accompany them it was plain instrumentals. However,Beethoven set the trend by being the first major composer to usevoices in a symphony. I would call it a choral symphony. The newtrend gave a new meaning to this piece. It was unique from the wordgo. From the first time I listened to it, I knew there was somethingamazingly unusual from the symphony. When I heard the voices in thefinal movement, it then hit me that the amazingly unusual thing inthe symphony was the vocalists.
Most people remember the symphony because of the choral finale.Although the other parts were also marvelous, the choral finalemarked the pinnacle of prowess in the symphony. Later symphonistswere unable to escape the effect created by Beethoven. It becamealmost mandatory for a complete to have a choral element in it. Thenext great symphonists imitated his slow introduction and a logicalbridge to the exposition. The ninth symphony by Beethoven was ahallmark in the world of classical.
The symphony begins with a pure atmosphere of suspense. One cannotpredict how it will end by just listening to the beginning or thefirst stanza. During that time, symphonies were easily predictablebecause the first stanza pretty much sum up everything. The variationbetween the three basic elements of symphonies- tone, rhythm, andmelody-was not easily noticeable between the transitions from onestanza to another. If a listener would not be so keen, he would notnotice the differences in the elements of the symphony as itprogresses from one point to another.
However, in the ninth symphony, things were a little different.Beethoven leaves all the three elements of a symphony receptive tochange from the onset of the symphony. It is almost impossible totell the form that the elements of the symphony will take afterlistening to the first few lines. The suspense therein made me wantto listen to its entirety.
Did I mention how long it took Beethoven to come up with thecomposition? Beethoven began working on the symphony in 1823. Hewrote, erased, and then wrote again severally. Many were the times hewould go deep into the night for the purposes of the composition.Finally, he was able to come up with a symphony that met hisstandards in 1824 at his Vienna home. The serenity of the place mayhave contributed a great deal to this masterpiece. The fact that heput in some much effort to the ninth symphony is plausible ionitself. Not many were willing to go to such greater lengths for thesake of their music.
The stage performance of the symphony did not disappoint at all.After the release of the classic, promoters in London and Berlininvited Beethoven to perform in their stages. Beethoven had been awayfrom live performance for almost a decade. As a result, he washesitant to accept the invitation. After some begging, he gave in.within the three days he was supposed to rehearse, tickets to thetheatre were already sold out. The organizers of the event could nothelp but regret why they had not chosen a bigger venue.
The performance was one of a kind. It included orchestra chorus andsoloists. However as it turns out, the additions to his concert werequite expensive than he had though earlier on. The profits from thefirst concert were unexpectedly low for a symphony of such magnitude.When Beethoven realized how little he would take home, he stormed outof the dinner hosted by the concert organizers. He was disappointedby the level of exploitation that the organizers had, for they wereinterested in gaining selfishly. He accused them of exploiting hissymphony. The next concert was marked by a poor turnout and thatmarked the last of Beethoven’s concerts during his career.
Despite the poor finish, Beethoven remains among the best composersthat ever lived. The ninth symphony was a pure masterpiece that puthis name on the world map. It set the yardstick for latersymphonists. The use of a choral finale also marked the beginning ofa new era in symphonies. He popularized the style among theforthcoming symphonists after him. To me, it remains among the bestsymphonies ever created by man. Maybe you should try it too. I amsure you will love it.