holst's the planets

#30- Beethoven’s Fifth: The Most Famous Symphony Of All Time

Da-Da-Da-DUM — hardly any succession of notes is as famous as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. 

This week, Scott, Karl, and Trent discuss the life and legacy of Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music.

Trent says, “I hear him having all of the virtuosity and command of the musical vocabulary that Bach, Mozart, and Haydn have. But I think he is ultimately inspired by fits of passion— these violent, emotional impulses. That’s the muse for his music. It’s a different mindset.”

Beethoven’s Fifth is a powerful expression of his force of character. Scott adds, “It is maybe the purest expression of what a person can have.”

First performed in Vienna’s Theater an der Wien in 1808, Symphony No. 5 has gone down in music history as the Symphony of Fate. When asked about the opening motif of the Fifth Symphony, the composer is said to have replied: “This is the sound of fate knocking at the door.”

Karl believes there’s nobody better than Beethoven. Do you agree? Tune in for more music and ideas, brought to you by onlinegreatbooks.com.


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  1. James Henderson

    Regarding the opportunities to have music in the home more than a century ago – my grandmother played new music in the department store for demonstration purposes. People would buy the sheet music and take it home to play it on the piano in their parlor. This was in Miami, Oklahoma, but also all throughout the U.S. and beyond.
    Really enjoyed your insight into the beauties of Beethoven’s Fifth. When I want a break from reading Plato I sit down at my piano and play a Beethoven Sonata or a bagatelle like “fur elise”.

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