Virtual Music Hour

  Beethoven 7 Archive


  Introducing Beethoven Symphony No. 7


  Listen to the Music

Movement 1

Movement 2

Movement 3

This week's Virtual Music Hour is dedicated to the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation.


  Activity

Welcome to Virtual Music Hour. In preparation for your listening experience, Assistant Principal Violist Catherine Beeson has made guides with activities that can be enjoyed alone, with your quarantine buddies at home and online, or with your students. These activities can be mixed, matched, and altered to create an experience that’s right for you, or as inspiration to create your own. Get as creative as you’d like. Share it with us on social media! If you like seeing and hearing the Colorado Symphony musicians online, imagine how uplifting it would be for us to see and hear you too!

Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony is a non-stop thrill ride for both listeners and performers. It’s filled with dance rhythms, great melodies, and feels like that rock band turning up their volume all the way through the set until the speakers blow out at the end. In fact, listening to it at home your walls should be vibrating and if everyone in the room isn’t dancing around wildly, conducting, clapping along or periodically shouting by the end of the piece you aren’t doing it right. This is something you can do now that you could never ever do attending in the concert hall so go for it!!

  • Ludwig van Beethoven would’ve been 250 years old this year. He composed nine symphonies for full orchestra, and completed his Seventh Symphony in 1812 when he was 42 years old.
  • Symphony No. 7 lasts for about 40 minutes and is in four sections called movements, like a book with four chapters. Each movement has its own unique characteristics and function, but there are a few things here and there that preview the next movement or tie the whole symphony ‘chapter book’ together.
  • The first performance of Symphony No. 7 was a success and the audience demanded to hear the eight-minute-long second movement “Allegretto” again as soon as the concert was finished. It became popular as a stand-alone piece of music apart from the rest of the symphony, like the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, the “Goin’ Home” melody from Antonín Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony, and “Lyric for Strings” originally from George Walker’s String Quartet No. 1.
  • The Allegretto movement is still very popular today and was recently used as the soundtrack to the final scene in the movie The King’s Speech.
  • This music rocks out at Volume 11 even though Beethoven wrote for just two flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, and trumpets, no percussion other than timpani (kettle drums), and the usual string section of violins, violas, cellos, and basses.

Here is a listening map that can guide you through the piece. Read it in advance or while you’re listening!



Movement 1

Poco Sostenuto – Vivace
In English:  a little sustained – lively and vivacious

The first music we hear is an introduction which effectively gathers friends for the dance. We hear first the oboe, then clarinet, and horn statements punctuated by loud chords from the rest of the orchestra.

This introduction gives way to gathering rhythmic energy and melodic fragments until, at the 3:35 mark, it melts into a suspenseful exchange between high strings and winds, previewing the underlying skipping rhythm of the Vivace movement at 3:58.

4:31 – The music bursts into action with strings loudly proclaiming the melody (but also listen here for the horns triumphantly outlining the apex of each of these gestures).

6:22 – There is an abrupt halt, silence, and a restart.

Another of these abrupt changes occurs at the 13:15 mark, kicking off a great coda, or final ending, with a sort of “Jaws theme” idea that returns in movements three and four. This “Jaws theme” idea goes from 13:27 until the final outburst at 13:52. Again, listen for the horns to be the triumphant conquering heroes of the dance at 14:14. We dare you not to feel lifted!

This symphony is filled with rhythmic vitality and is through-and-through the “danciest” of all of Beethoven’s nine symphonies.

  • What do you think makes a particular rhythm encourage movement or dancing?
  • What might some other musical elements be that could increase or decrease the dance feeling of a rhythm?
  • Which of these things did you notice while listening to the Colorado Symphony performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony?

Beethoven uses triplet rhythms, or rhythms that flow in groupings of 3, in almost every movement of the symphony. To create more interest and excitement, he layers different rhythms together which make complex combinations. Let’s try learning some!



Now that you’ve had a chance to consider, discuss, and get active around elements of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, it’s time to listen to the Colorado Symphony performance. This symphony begs for movement and you can really get after it at home in a way that you can’t when you’re in the concert hall. Clear some space in the room where you’ll be listening. Feel free to join in on the rhythm exercises above, dance around (even the Allegretto movement makes a nice long slow dance!), “air guitar” with the different instruments you hear, conduct along, or keep it relaxed by journaling, painting, or drawing your observations.

Afterwards, have a discussion! How was your listening experience? Did you try some new things? In what ways did the discussion or activities affect this experience?

  

#PlayOn

Please share your musical adventure with us through social media! We would love to hear about it or see any of your activities, journaling, or creations!

@coloradosymphony
#coloradosymphony

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