Symphony No 7 in A Major, Opus 92

Symphony number 7 is very important work that was premiered in Vienna on December 8, 1813 at a charity concert for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Hanau, with Beethoven himself conducting and double featured with the patriotic Wellington’s Victory symphony. The orchestra was led by Beethoven’s friend, Ignaz Schuppanzigh, and included some of the finest musicians of the day: violinist Louis Spohr, Johann Hummel, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Antonio Salieri, Anton Romberg, and the Italian double bass virtuoso, Domenico Dragonetti, who Beethoven himself described as playing “with great fire and expressive power.

And there are very important notes wrote about this Symphony , Many of what are today considered Beethoven’s most highly esteemed compositions, especially ones from late in his career, were initially received with a complex mixture of admiration, bewilderment, and resistance. But there were also works that were really popular or at least they aimed to be popular. These pieces tend to be less familiar today than when they were the preferable of his contemporaries: Wellington’s Victory, the oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives, the Septet, and his best-loved song, “Adelaide.” Occasionally, Beethoven wrote something that was immediately recognized as both artistically great and hugely popular. For example the second movement of his Seventh Symphony, a piece that was often performed separately from the complete Symphony and that may have been Beethoven’s most popular orchestral composition. And it also was been an extraordinary influence on later composers, as the slow movements of Schubert’s “Great” C-major Symphony and E-flat Piano Trio, Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony, Berlioz’s Harold in Italy, and other works attest.

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And After its premiere, the Symphony number 7 was repeated triple in the following  10 weeks at one of the performances the “applause rose to the point of ecstasy,” according to a newspaper account. The Leipzig Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung reported that “the new symphony was received with so much applause, and again. The reception was as animated as at the first time; the Andante [sic] (A minor), the crown of modern instrumental music, as at the first performance, had to be repeated.” The Symphony’s appeal is not hard to understand, In this scope and intensity, it is fully Beethovenian, and yet it does not place quite as many demands on the listener as does the “Eroica.” The ambition of the first movement, beauty of the second, the breathlessness of the scherzo, and relentless energy of the finale did not fail to impress audiences. Beethoven himself called it “one of the happiest products of my poor talents.”

 the seventh Symphony had been written in 1811-12 and completed in April. It was recorded at one of his most successful concerts, given on December 8, 1813, to benefit soldiers wounded in the battle of Hanau a few months earlier. combined with the Seventh was the first performance of Wellington’s Victory, also known as the “Battle Symphony.” The interstings of the event was hardly surprising given what most members of the Viennese audience had been through during the preceding decade. The occupations of Napoleon in Vienna in 1805 and 1809 had proven traumatic, but the tide had turned with the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. after that in June, the Duke of Wellington was triumphant against Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon’s younger brother), in the northern Spanish town of Victoria, and within the year the Congress of Vienna was convened to reapportion Europe in the aftermath of France’s defeat. Then after lot of conflict and misery, impending victory could be honored and celebrated.

And a lot of writers talked and characterized the Seventh Symphony in different and vary ways, but it is striking how many of the descriptions touch on its frenzy, approaching a bacchanal at times, and on its elements of dance. Richard Wagner’s poetic account is known as “All tumult, all yearning and storming of the heart, become here the blissful insolence of joy, which carries us away with bacchanalian power through the roomy space of nature, through all the streams and seas of life, shouting in glad self-consciousness as we sound throughout the universe the daring strains of this human sphere-dance. The seventh Symphony is called Apotheosis of the Dance itself  it is Dance in its highest aspect, the loftiest deed of bodily motion, incorporated into an ideal mold of tone.

And like what the biographer Maynard Solomon has keenly observed, the descriptions of Wagner and others seem to have a common theme “The apparently diverse free-associational images of these critics of masses of people, of powerful rhythmic energy discharged in action or in dance, of celebrations, weddings, and revelry may well be variations on a single image: the carnival or festival, which from time immemorial has temporarily lifted the burden of perpetual subjugation to the prevailing social and natural order by periodically suspending all customary privileges, norms, and imperatives.” Wellington’s Victory gave a realistic imitation of battle between the English (represented by the song “Rule Britannia”) and the French (“Marlborough s’en va-t’en guerre”) and ends victoriously with variations on “God Save the King”—it is an effective but hardly subtle work. The Seventh Symphony apparently tapped into similar celebratory emotions vivid at the moment, but on a much deeper level that has allowed the Symphony to retain its stature ever since.

The immediate and sustained reasons that make Beethoven to do this work are not far to seek, Beethoven produced a remarkable range of colors from his relatively modest orchestral forces, and his melodic invention was at a high level as well, but for the most part it’s a matter of rhythm, and in none of his earlier symphonies is the sheer visceral impact of the rhythmic element so strong felt, In the Seventh symphony the themes themselves seem to grow out of the rhythmic patterns. Richard Wagner, in one of his most frequently quoted essays, referred to the work as “the apotheosis of the dance,” and in the last century the score was actually choreographed more than once, but the visual impact has invariably fallen short of the ideal so compellingly conveyed in aural terms alone.

The first sketches of Beethoven for what would become the Seventh Symphony appear in a book that dates back to 1809 (although some themes can be traced back to a set of variations published in 1783, when the precocious teenager was already working as a harpsichordist and organist). After that in the second decade of the 19th Century was a turbulent one, marred by Napoleonic campaigns and the secondary wars they encouraged, and at one point Beethoven was forced to retreat to his brother’s cellar and cover his head with pillows to escape the painful noise caused by French artillery bent on conquering Vienna, where he now made his home. The  clearly disturbances had an effect on his output, for a glance at a catalog shows that he produced remarkably few works between 1810 and 1814 compared to the surrounding years.

Then Beethoven continue to work as best he could, generating what some consider his best symphony the seventh,  Richard Wagner called it “the apotheosis of the dance,” both one of the most famous and one of the most insightful comments ever made about a piece of music.

And until yet Wagner’s observation is not the whole truth, for the symphony does not so much glorify the dance as capture the essence of dance rhythms, With the exception of a relatively brief introduction that lulls us into placidity, the first movement has a driving rhythm reminiscent of a peasant celebration. The slower seconded movement  (which is to be played at an Allegretto, or “slightly fast”, tempo, rather than the more common Largo or Adagio) has a stately grace that almost begs to be decorated by a procession of courtiers. And the third, written in the 3/4 time of a waltz, brings to mind a ballroom filled with swirling costumes, the final movement zips along at an irrepressible pace that threatens to sweep the entire orchestra off its feet and around the theater, caught up in the sheer joy of performing one of the most perfect symphonies ever written.

The Seventh Symphony contains from  four movements:

First : Poco sostenuto , Vivace

Second : Allegretto

Third: Presto

Fourth : Allegro con brio

And the Performance time lasts approximately 34 minutes.

First : Part I – Vivace – it’s starts with a slow introduction – Poco sostenuto – solemn and majestic in character, Then, on the rhythmical background we hear the motif of Part I. The first movement brings many new elements, hard to decipher, because perfection expressed through sounds cannot be translated into words.

Second : Part II – Allegretto – The second movement Allegretto is the most important movement became it’s so notoriously popular during Beethoven’s lifetime that it was sometimes substituted for the slow movements of his earlier symphonies, and  It was also, all too frequently, performed on its own at a distended tempo as a funeral march, though it has nothing of that character when performed at the tempo indicated by the composer, and The unusual shape of its theme, though, has suggested an element of mystery, and inspired perhaps a greater number of fanciful interpretations than the work as a whole. One such was the image of a torch like procession in the Catacombs, while in the Emil Ludwig scenario the scene was one of priests marching to a temple amid sacred dancing, Beethoven’s admirer Friedrich Silcher (1789-1860), fearing the master’s instrumental works would be forgotten unless words were set to them, undertook to make song settings of several of them; he adapted this Allegretto to fit Heinrich Stieglitz’s poem Gesang der Peri’s. Schumann, who happened to compose a totally unrelated choral work called Das Paradies und die Peri, composed a set of Études in the Form of Variations for piano on the theme of this movement. More recently, John Corigliano drew upon the same source for his Fantasia on an Ostinato, originally for piano, subsequently orchestrated.

Third :Part III – Presto meno assai – represents a splendid triumph in rendering the scherzo form, and as a whole it conveys a genuine bucolic scene with pictural meanings and associations ,in Trio, the composer uses a theme from an Austrian folkloric song, the theme of which had been jotted down while Beethoven was in Teplitz.

Fourth: Part IV – Allegro con brio – emanates an immense joy from beginning to the end, everything is captured by movement like a popular folkloric song. second theme of this part is in fact a typical tune from a Hungarian dance. Ceaikovski The great Russian composer thought that this segment captures “a whole series of images, full of unrestrained joy, full of bliss and pleasure of life &quote ,  Listening to this symphony’s grand finale one can hardly decide what to think more astonishing: Beethoven’s amazing creative fantasy, the impeccable form, the amazing talent in using all the musical resources in developing the themes or his compact, luscious, sumptuous instrumentation. This work is known for its use of rhythmic devices. And it is also tonally subtle, making use of the tensions between the key centers of A, C and F. The second movement is in A minor with episodes in A major, and the scherzo is in F major.

All critics and listeners have often felt stirred or inspired by the Seventh Symphony, For instance, one program-note author writes: the final movement zips along at an irrepressible pace that threatens to sweep the entire orchestra off its feet and around the theater, caught up in the sheer joy of performing one of the most perfect symphonies ever written.

Antony Hopkins the Composer and music author said about the symphony: The Seventh Symphony perhaps more than any of the others gives us a feeling of true spontaneity; the notes seem to fly off the page as we are borne along on a floodtide of inspired invention, Beethoven himself spoke of it fondly as “one of my best works” Who are we to dispute his judgment?

And also , admiration for the work has not been universal, Carl Maria von Weber considered the chromatic bass line in the coda of the first movement evidence that Beethoven was “ripe for the madhouse” and the 20th century conductor Thomas Beecham was similarly uncharitable, saying “What can you do with it? And said that (It’s like a lot of yaks jumping about.)”

Bibliography

Christopher H. Gibbs.”  Notes on Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony .” June 11, 2006, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5481664
Grove, George. “Beethoven and His Nine Symphonies”. p. 228-271. Dover, 1962

Hopkins, Antony (1981) The Nine Symphonies of Beethoven, Heinemann

Joseph Kerman and Alan Tyson “Beethoven, Ludwig van”, 18 March 2007.

Kurt Masur ( National Symphony Orchestra)  , Jun 1 – 3, 2006.

Solomon, Maynard. “Late Beethoven Music” , 2003.

Steinberg, Michael. “The Symphony: a listeners guide”. p. 38-43. Oxford University Press, 1995.

 

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