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BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6


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Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827)



Symphony No.5 in C Minor, Op. 67


Symphony No.6 in F Major, Op. 68, "Pastoral"



Beethoven wrote nine symphonies, the first heralding the new century, in1800, and the last completed in 1824. Although he made few changes to thecomposition of the orchestra itself, adding, when occasion demanded, one or twoinstruments more normally found in the opera-house, he expanded vastly thetraditional form, developed in the time of Haydn and Mozart, reflecting thepersonal and political struggles of a period of immense change and turbulence.

To his contemporaries he seemed an inimitable original, but to a number of hissuccessors he seemed to have expanded the symphony to an intimidating extent.



Beethoven's Symphony in C minor, Opus 67, is a work that has enjoyedenormous popularity, not least for its patriotic associations that accord wellwith the period of its composition and have proved to suit the sensibilities oflater generations. For some of the work has become known as Fate, as the resultof an alleged remark of the composer, reported by the unreliable Schindler, onthe opening of the first movement - Thus Fate knocks at the door. It has beenleft for others to point out that there is plenty of evidence for similarknocking at doors in other compositions by Beethoven, the initial rhythmicfigure being one that he found to his purpose on other occasions.



Beethoven composed music relatively slowly and carefully, and the earlysketches for the C minor Symphony are found in notebooks of 1804, theperiod of the Eroica Symphony. The work was completed in 1808 anddedicated to Count Razumovsky, Prince Lichnowsky's brother-in-law, the Tsar'srepresentative in Vienna and a patron of great munificence, while his moneylasted, and to Prince Lobkowitz. It received its first performance at a concerton 22nd December, 1808. The taxing programme, that resulted in near disaster inthe final Choral Fantasia, included the Pastoral Symphony and the FourthPiano Concerto, as well as a number of items for soloists and chorus. Itseems that the Fifth Symphony was at first intended, like the Fourth, forCount Franz von Oppersdorff, from whom the composer certainly received somepayment. By September of the year of its completion, however, Beethoven had soldit to the publishers Breitkopf and Haertel. In orchestration the FifthSymphony shows innovations in its inclusion of the piccolo, the doublebassoon and three trombones in the final movement.



The sixth of Beethoven's nine symphonies, the Pastoral, was firstperformed at a concert in Vienna in December 1808. The occasion was an importantone for the composer, since it was likely to prove the only significant sourceof income for him that year. In preparation for the event he had put aside workon his projected opera Macbeth and on the alternative text of Bradamante,both supplied by Heinrich von Collin, and assembled a programme of phenomenallength. The works played included the Fifth Symphony, the Fourth PianoConcerto, a piano fantasia, items for soloists and chorus and, inconclusion, a Fantasia for the Pianoforte which ends with the gradualentrance of the entire orchestra and the introduction of the choruses as afinale, the Choral Fantasia.





Predictably the concert was an embarrassment to Beethoven's friends,compelled to sit for four hours in the bitterly cold Theater-an-der-Wien. As oneotherwise sympathetic observer reported, it proved possible to have too much ofa good thing, and still more of a loud. The concert was under-rehearsed, andBeethoven had met considerable opposition from members of the orchestra. In the ChoralFantasia instructions about repeats had been misunderstood, so that the workhad to be started again, and Beethoven intervened with audible comments onmistakes. Nevertheless the Sixth Symphony, which happily opened theconcert, was well enough received, in spite of its unusual length.



The advertisement for Beethoven's December concert billed the PastoralSymphony as A Recollection of Country Life, to be described by the composer,in a careful attempt to dispel any suspicion that he had written a crudeimitation of nature, as more an expression of feeling than tone-painting. Insome ways the work may be seen as a conclusion and summary of a tradition ofmusic inspired by the country, although the Wordsworthian suggestion of emotionrecollected in tranquillity is very much of its period.



In his early years in Bonn Beethoven had planned a symphony, the naturalambition of any composer. His first extant composition in this form, however,was written towards the end of the century and first performed in Vienna at theImperial Court Theatre on 2nd April, 1800. The symphony was dedicated to Baronvan Swieten, the arbiter of musical taste in Vienna, who had encouraged Mozartand provided the texts for Haydn's later oratorios.



The programme for what was in fact Beethoven's first benefit concert was asubstantial one. A Mozart symphony was followed by an aria from Haydn'sCreation. Then came a piano concerto by Beethoven, with the composer as soloist.

The Schuppanzigh Quartet was joined by three wind-players to perform a septet,by Beethoven. After this came the symphony.



As so often in Beethoven's career, reviews were decidedly cool, and we maygather that all did not run as smoothly as it should have done. There was aquarrel about who should direct the orchestra, and the players did not listen tothe soloist in the concerto, while in the symphony the wind instruments wereparticularly unenthusiastic in their performance. The symphony later formed partof a concert in 1803, when Beethoven's oratorio Christ on the Mount of Oliveswas first performed. On that occasion it was well enough received, in spiteof the length of the programme.



Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra


Zagreb, the second city in modern Yugoslavia, occupies an important place inthe musical life of the country. The Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra wasestablished in 1920, inheriting the symphonic traditions of its predecessor, theorchestra of the opera-house. Since then it has won a national and internationalreputation, appearing in major cities throughout Eastern and Western Europe andthe United States of America.



During the course of its existence the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra hasworked with the most distinguished conductors, including Bruno Walter, ClemensKrauss, Felix Weingartner, Rafael Kubelik, Leopold stokowski, Sir MalcolmSargent, Igor Markevich, Kyril Kondrashin, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, StanislavSkrowaczewsky, Zubin Mehta, Paul Kletzki, Otmar suitner, Jean Martinon, VaclavNeumann and Sir John Barbirolli. The orchestra also has given concerts under thedirection of Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland and Lukas Foss. Since 1980 PavelDespalj has been principal conductor and artistic director of the orchestra.



Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava)


The Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava), the oldest symphonicensemble in Slovakia, was founded in 1929 at the instance of Milos Ruppeldt andOskar Nedbal, prominent personalities in the sphere of music. Ondrej Lenard wasappointed its conductor in 1970 and in 1977 its conductor-in-chief. Theorchestra has given successful concerts both at home and abroad, in Germany,Russia, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Spain, Italy, Great Britain, Hong Kong andJapan. For Marco Polo the orchestra has reco
Disc: 1
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, "Pastoral"
1 Allegro con brio
2 Andante con moto
3 Allegro
4 Allegro
5 Allegro ma non troppo
6 Andante molto mosso
7 Allegro
8 Allegro
9 Allegretto
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