Theme from Symphony No 5

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The composer holds us breathless and then insistently repeats the three notes on a lower tone and again holds us tight on the fourth. After this unbelievable introduction, Beethoven unleashes a movement unlike any other in his time. From the opening kernel, he developed a symphonic masterpiece, demonstrating a new symphonic principal: the potential of a single gesture to generate an enormous piece.

Rhythms are torrential, but the single focus on the motto insists upon that underlying idea.


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Sometimes the idea screams, sometimes whispers or pants in the depths of the orchestra, but it is unstoppable. A lyrical second theme introduced by French horn is beautiful but overwhelmed by the rage and insistence of the opening grip. A turbulent development continues the obsession with the opening motto, not uttered in tight integration.

Beethoven's Symphony No 5, introduced by Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Within a traditional recapitulation, Beethoven stops the action with an expressive oboe cadenza , and then he moves us into a long coda, hammering the motto again and again into our soul. His second movement, Andante con moto , spins a series of four variations on two main ideas.


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  • Violas and cellos first sing a richly declaimed song before clarinets, flute and bassoons chant a sturdier, more assertive idea. Although writing double variations on these two ideas, Beethoven cannot resist allowing rhythmic allusions to the opening cell to persist. The third movement, Allegro , is a scherzo rather than a traditional minuet and trio. Ominously, hushed cellos and basses restlessly stir the first musical ideas before French horns emerge with a strong theme, again referencing the opening idea.

    Themes spar back and forth.

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    A dramatic pianissimo section, underscored by muttering timpani, charges the atmosphere before an extended crescendo moves directly to the brilliant finale. The fourth movement ratchets up instrumental color by the addition of piccolo, contrabassoon and three trombones. This was the first time trombones appeared in a symphony orchestra.

    About 'Theme from Symphony No.5'

    A panoply of themes occupies the enlarged canvas and palette. Trombones are invoked to lead the extroverted march-like theme, which sets the stage for the greater dimensions. While the contrabassoon adds depth, the piccolo provides glitter. Within the exuberant mood, Beethoven leads us to his triumphant coda, now stressing the light of C Major for 54 measures.

    The fifth spoke a musical language no one had heard before.

    About the Work

    He knew the secret forces of his spiritual kingdom…. Accompanied by his second wife, Mira, the retreat set up by the Union of Soviet Composers proved an idyllic setting for composition. Though the piano score was finished in as little as a month, many of the musical ideas that ended up in the symphony can be traced back several years in his sketchbooks, some as far back as It had been fourteen years since he had completed his Fourth Symphony, years far less tranquil than the summer of After the Russian Revolution of , Prokofiev fled the chaos in his native land, immigrating to the West.

    He toured the United States and ultimately settled in Paris, but became increasingly frustrated with the lack of progress he felt he was making with his career as a composer.

    His unique blend of dissonant harmonies and melodic lyricism was too traditional for modernists and too modern for traditionalists. Prokofiev felt out of place. Prokofiev made several visits to the USSR; his works were performed, new pieces were commissioned, and he was promised the freedom to tour internationally should he return. Although he had some idea of the restrictions placed on artists, he still genuinely believed he would be more appreciated and have greater opportunities in Russia than in the West. He acquiesced.

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    Listening Guide: Bruckner's Symphony No. 5

    According to one estimate, as many as , public figures were executed in the USSR between and Needless to say, the career he had hoped for did not materialize. Many pieces he wrote were rejected, and while he had some successes, he constantly had to try to read the minds of less than enlightened Soviet bureaucrats. Under the stress, his first marriage collapsed, and he began an affair with the woman who would become his second wife, Mira Mendelson.

    Finale from Symphony No. 5 (Themes from the Fourth Movement) - Tchaikovsky - Brian Holmes - 3036031

    Apparently, the judges did not notice the subversive messages encoded into it that later commentators have discerned. The pianist Sviatoslav Richter was in attendance, and left a vivid recollection:. His baton was already raised. There was something very significant, very symbolic in this.


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    • It was as if all of us—including Prokofiev—had reached some kind of shared turning point. Prokofiev was perhaps the greatest melodist of his time, and this symphony is full of his uniquely beautiful melodies. The music zigs and zags unpredictably, as if the orchestra is engaged in an elaborate game of cat and mouse.

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