Symphony No. 1 (Beethoven)

The work on the Symphony No. 1 in C major op 21 by Ludwig van Beethoven began in 1799 and finished it a year later. The first performance under his leadership on April 2, 1800 KK National Court Theatre in Vienna was a great success for the composer. The symphony is dedicated to Baron Gottfried van Swieten. From the equipment and instruments used the symphony ago you can still clearly hear the heroes Mozart and Haydn.

Musical work marking

2 flutes

2 oboes

2 Clarinets

2 bassoons

2 Horns

2 Trumpets

Timpani and


The first movement is a typical symphony first movement with a slow introduction and subsequent downright exemplary sonata form. Quite surprisingly, for its time, the symphony begins with a seventh chord, a dissonance, as a secondary dominant (C7) to the subdominant (IV = F major ). So the listener is initially kept in the dark about the basic key; the tonic is throughout the slow introduction artfully avoided or used only as a passage. Only with the beginning of the exposure and the first topic, the long-awaited C major is all the more clearly established in a restless Allegro con brio. The remarkable of the second theme is that it receives a broken instrumentation, ie one hand, the leading melody instruments dissolve in unusually rapid succession ( from cycle to cycle ) from, and on the other hand, this separation occurs also on the different groups of instruments of time between the woodwinds and string instruments. Thus, the page set receives an ease of tone and transparency, which is in contrast to the previous block-like instrumentation. New in the subsequent implementation is the motivic- thematic work, in the fragmented, the first and second issue in its motivic components and to each other in new harmonic, instrumental and contrapuntal combination. The recapitulation appears almost identical to the exposure; the coda refers to the first topic, accepts sequences from the beginning of the implementation, thus an architectural symmetry is created, and ends the set in festive - consolidated C major chords. Already in the introduction to Beethoven used the complete instruments of the symphony orchestra and thus represents the listener in front of his for the symphony to be expected sound spectrum.

The second movement is in sonata form. The first topic is thereby introduced into a fugal. It is noteworthy that the character of a traditionally quiet, contemplative second movement ( here Andante) by the addition of con moto ( = with movement) and the metronome number information rather something Vibrant, Light-footed gets and therefore continues to date unusual, the freshness of the first movement. Also is not contrasted 1 to 2 theme; the gesture of both themes and thus the overall lyrical expression of the sentence remains very similar. The implementation does not bring rhythmic and motivic compression and shading to the minor, but in the detail and intensity as in the first movement of the symphony. The recapitulation appears by an additional counterpoint as an enriched version of the sentence beginning. With regard to the lyrical themes and character of the regularity in the form union structure could also speak of a three-part song form, followed by a detailed coda that combines elements of both topics in a rhythmic ostinato and processed in this second set. Although the instruments such as trumpets and timpani usually mention in a second set ( called tacet ), Beethoven used in this sentence, all instruments of the orchestra and thus have a huge tonal color and mood spectrum. The dominant dynamic is piano; is the total expression generated by lyrical themes, dance rhythms and subdued dynamics of the second set in the (major ) subdominant F major serene.

The third movement is titled Minuet. However, it is clearly a scherzo. This is especially evident by the extreme tempo ( Allegro molto e vivace ), indicating that Beethoven metronome figures, as well as by the irregular accents and the surprising dynamics differences as well as by the irregular phrase lengths, which can not easily danceable structure arise. To account for the joking Stick this sentence, also no real thematic structures or motifs are used or developed; instead adds Beethoven skillfully simple set pieces of scale and triad together that give a distinctive and playful swing with its rising momentum of the pack. The trio is dominated by harmonic static wind chords played simultaneously with scale components of the first violins and thus appears in comparison with the lively scherzo part more like a pause.

The fourth movement begins - unusually - again with a slow introduction:

Unusually, entirely unaccompanied by other instruments here the violins feel their way slowly up the scale until after a brief stop ( pause ) the orchestra with the first theme of the sonata form ( rondo ) loss piles ( Allegro molto vivace e ). The thematic material is mostly dominated by the musical motif of the ascending scales, which pay tribute to the established character Haydn'scher Symphony finales in their quick, playful way. With march-like Brass signals and multiple repeated tutti blows the whole orchestra, the symphony ends.

Premiere and effect

The world premiere of his Symphony No. 1 on April 2, 1800 Beethoven himself in the first " Musical Academy " in kuk National Court Theatre directed. Together with her were heard Beethoven Septet op.20 and his first piano concerto. In addition, Beethoven improvised on the piano.

On the occasion of this premiere wrote the " Leipziger Allgemeine Zeitung Musical ":