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Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5, analysis by Gerard Schwarz (part 1)

Watch the full performance here. Created by All Star Orchestra.

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  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Elpis
    When was the 5th Symphony composed?
    (158 votes)
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  • aqualine tree style avatar for user alexisborum
    why for the music instructions their music notes instead of words and do they make them for the blind ,deaf,or someone with both disabilities to learn as well?
    (32 votes)
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    • purple pi purple style avatar for user Prashanth Mohan
      For the music instructions, they use music notes instead of words because there are several same keys but with different tones. For example, there are more than three C's in a piano. They have the same sound but the left side of the piano has a deeper tone and it gets higher as you travel right on a piano. If music was written in words then a musician would not know which C the music was talking about. Also, for the blind there is a system called braille music similar to literary braille. For the deaf, I do not know if there is a system for the deaf but many composers and music players are deaf! this link may help:
      http://ed.ted.com/lessons/music-and-math-the-genius-of-beethoven-natalya-st-clair
      (51 votes)
  • male robot johnny style avatar for user Cam
    Is the music somewhat mathematical. Rather then being creative, can a person create the music mathematically?
    (7 votes)
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    • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Gavin Reed
      Music has a suttle bond between creativity and mathematics. Technically speaking music can be made mathematically, however it would most likely lack the story, feeling, and tone of other music. The mathematic aspect of music is just the technicality of a piece. The creativity gives music a feeling that is new and different, it makes music pleasant to listen to.
      (13 votes)
  • mr pink red style avatar for user adityashah0712
    How is a deaf man supposed to compose and play music with no hearing
    (4 votes)
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    • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Lady Zii
      He wasn't born deaf. It was a gradual process; Beethoven was nearly, or completely, deaf at the premier of his 9th symphony in 1824. Being deaf wouldn't keep him from composing, but it would make performing difficult, if not impossible. At some point, he did stop publicly performing (until he conducted the premier of the 9th).
      (8 votes)
  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Ethan Shan
    HOw long was the whole fifth symphony
    (5 votes)
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  • piceratops seed style avatar for user Jarum
    At about , the host talking about a "Motive". What is a motive? Do all/most songs have motives? How can you tell a motive from another part of a song?
    (5 votes)
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    • old spice man green style avatar for user sluna
      it is a motif, which is a short segment of music used to represent an emotion, or character. The opening motif of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is known as the Fate motif, and refers to Fate knocking on a door. Richard Wagner developed what are called leitmotifs, and used them to refer to characters or ideas that were occurring. Modern film scores use motifs frequently, often to relate what the person on screen is thinking, or whether is scene is dangerous, lighthearted, etc.
      (2 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Amilah
    How did Beethoven compose this Symphony with his hearing issues at the time?
    (4 votes)
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    • leaf blue style avatar for user Peterson
      Because of his previous training and experience, he knew what the music sounded like in his mind. He did not need to experiment at the piano with certain harmonies or phrases, but simply had to write what was in his mind onto the paper. Some letters also indicate that Beethoven would play on the piano so hard that he could feel its vibrations through the floor, but there were certainly limitations to the musical benefits that this produced. Most of Beethoven's music was already in his imagination, just waiting to be transcribed on paper.
      (4 votes)
  • purple pi pink style avatar for user PERCE-NEIGE
    Can we say he made such dramatic changes in the symphony concept, that it's like a revolution of this concept?
    (4 votes)
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    • leaf blue style avatar for user Peterson
      Beethoven's contribution to the symphony genre were not so much revolutionary as they were evolutionary. He was heavily influenced by both Haydn and Mozart (who had both made major contributions themselves), but wanted to continue the evolution of making the symphony more personal and expressive. He did both, mainly by expanding the symphonies form. After him, Brahms took the symphony even further, followed by Bruckner, and so on. Each composer built on the work of previous composers, making it their own form, and setting the stage for others after them to continue the evolution and development of the genre.
      (4 votes)
  • marcimus pink style avatar for user bhobson
    What about the history of symphony? I mean, was there such a thing as a "first symphony"? who started to develop it?, what is the background of the symphony?...I know that most classical music has its roots on music made for the church but I think symphonies have an interesting structure and i'd like to know more.
    (4 votes)
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    • leaf blue style avatar for user Peterson
      The symphony began its life in the 1700s as a three-section work: fast-slow-fast. It quickly developed into the common four-movement composition. The added section was a minuet, which is a type of dance, although Beethoven later changed it to the scherzo. Haydn and Mozart were the first champions of the symphony, and both composed a large number of them during the Classical era. Beethoven was the first to really transform the symphony into a lengthier, more dynamic and expressive musical form. By the mid-1800s, almost all composers wrote symphonies, with Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and Bruckner being the greatest symphonists of this time.

      The early-1900s saw the arrival of Gustav Mahler, who was arguably the greatest composer of symphonies. He expanded the form of the symphony, wrote massive movements, and required huge orchestras and choirs for his works (his Eighth Symphony was premiered with well over 500 performers). After Mahler’s death, the symphony began to recede in popularity, as many viewed it as old-fashioned or limiting. A few figures still be notable for their symphonies, though; Sibelius, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich being among them. By the 1950s, though, the symphony had died out completely, and very few symphonies have been written since. Those that have already been composed, though, are performed often and are staples of the orchestral repertoire.

      (From: https://www.khanacademy.org/computer-programming/glossary-of-musical-terms/6440423367901184)
      (4 votes)
  • purple pi purple style avatar for user Tehya Lee
    i still dont get how he went deaf! how exactly did he go deaf?
    (5 votes)
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Video transcript

(classical music) - When a composer writes a symphony, there's expectations. It's supposed to be a big piece, it's supposed to be a long piece, it's supposed to have a lot of elements, numerous movements. And Beethoven comes from a tradition, a classical tradition of Mozart and Haydn. He was born in Bonn, in Germany and soon emigrated to Vienna. He wanted to go to the music capital of Europe, as he saw it. He played for Mozart, did some improvisations. Mozart was very impressed and said look out, this man will be someone important. He studied a little bit with Haydn even though his main teacher was Albrechtsberger. He even studied with Salieri. When he started writing his symphonies in the early part of the 19th century, most of his symphonies he wrote in the first decade of the 1800s. The first symphony was a remarkable work, very much in the classical tradition of Haydn and Mozart. The third symphony, The Eroica, is extraordinary, and it's long. Symphonies usually take 25, 30, 35 minutes. All of a sudden, The Eroica is taking 50 minutes. It adds a third horn. It extends the whole concept of the symphony to a larger language than Mozart and Haydn. The fifth symphony is remarkable in lots of ways. Obviously, the most important thing is the way he developed this little motif. (classical music) Think about the audience hearing these notes just played by the clarinets and the strings. And he takes these notes, (classical music) and he develops them throughout the whole movement, and in fact, with the exception of the second movement, that little motif is played in every movement. Something unusual for the time. When you're listening to the symphony, you don't really realize that that motif is going on all the time. You don't even know where it comes from some of the time. In a way, I guess you're not supposed to, you're just supposed to hear it and all of the sudden it's like oh, this sounds familiar, this is recognizable, it somewhat holds together. But I thought I'd show you a little bit of what he does. Okay. So he takes this symphony and he starts it, there's in a sense this wild energy because it's so much activity. There's these little moving notes constantly. There's no introduction, he just jumps right in. So you're in and you hear this motif, which is, in a sense, of course, the first theme. And he, even though it's what we call the exposition, the first section of the piece, he develops it somewhat until the horns come in to introduce the second theme. So they play. (classical music) So obviously, it's the same. Three short and a long. But instead of, (classical music) it goes. So, he expands the interval from, to. (classical music) And then he writes the second theme. (classical music) All within the framework of what the horns have just done. (classical music) Just those notes. But while he's doing, (classical music) you're hearing the bass. The same rhythm as the opening. If I didn't point it out to you, you wouldn't notice it. But if you listen to it, you'll see that you'll hear that cello and bass playing that motif underneath that second theme, which of course is a contrasting theme. (classical music) Then, Beethoven comes back, develops the initial motif again and then we repeat the whole section. So this whole exposition, or first section, is repeated. And the next section, in typical symphonic form, is called the development section. And you take the material from both themes and you develop it, you go in lots of different directions. Clearly, Beethoven was one of the great composers for development because he had this incredible ability to improvise. And in a sense, what you're doing when you're doing the development is you're improvising. You're going in new directions, you're adding new ideas, and changing harmony and melodic contours and doing whatever you can do to keep the audience really interested and excited. (classical music) And then instead of just repeating the same motif over and over again, he extends it, rhythmically, and of course, he includes the gesture. (classical music) And that keeps extending until all of a sudden, he reduces it. So it starts out by being, as I just played. (classical music) And then it becomes. (classical music) Just those two notes and just single notes. And, there's this conversation between the woodwinds and the strings. (classical music) From two notes to one note, changes the harmony, and then (fingers snap) he brings us back again, with the same kind of excitement. (classical music) And then again, single notes. And then again, he brings us back with that same gesture. This time. (classical music) And it builds and builds and builds, just like it does in the first section. (classical music) We've now arrived at what we call the recapitulation. So, we've had the exposition, we've had the development, and now the recapitulation. The recapitulation traditionally is a repetition of the first section with a slight variant in harmony, but otherwise it's the same. And Beethoven does that. He has the same material, everything goes, and at the moment when we get to the big where the violins hold this G, instead of the violins holding the G, a sole oboe holds that G, and then he plays a little cadenza. (classical music) How unusual. Right in the middle of a symphony, first movement. Everything comes to a halt, and there's the oboe. (classical music) After that, we have what would be considered a relatively normal recapitulation and the movement comes to a remarkable conclusion. Of course, there are differences and when the horns play the first time, (classical music) the second time and the recapitulation is played by the bassoon. But you always here this continuing motif of those three short and one long note, whether it's in the accompaniment or in the melody. (classical music) One other thing that's interesting is that the coda is always an important element in Beethoven's music. So we have exposition, development, recapitulation, and now we have another element, the coda. In Beethoven's case, the coda, in the first movement of this fifth symphony is longer than any of the other sections. Codas, when they exist in classical form, are usually short, brief. It's just like the tag at the end. So here's this great genius who makes the coda even more important, in length more important than the other sections of the movement. (classical music)