Ludwig van Beethoven (Germany) was a composer of music who dominated the period in between the Classical Era and the Romantic Era. He died at age 56 on March 26, 1827. He was an innovative composer who combined vocals with musical instruments. He expanded the scopes of sonatas. In his personal life, he struggled with deafness. Some of his greatest works were written during his last ten years, when he could not hear.
Western Classical Music includes extended compositions, such as a symphony. They are usually composed by a composer for an orchestra. Beethoven’s first symphony was two works that directly imitated Mozart and Haydn. For string instruments like violin, cello, viola and double basses, as well as brass, woodwinds and percussion instruments, symphonies can be scored. Piano and celesta can sometimes be found in a 5th keyboard section. They may also stand alone. Full-size orchestras are sometimes referred to as a philharmonic or symphony.
The number of musicians in a performance can vary between 70 and over 100, depending on what is being performed and the size of a venue. In recent years, some orchestras have reverted to the seating arrangement of the Baroque and Classical eras. The second violins sit to the left, the cellos in the middle, and the violas on the right. This gives the music an stereophonic feel.
What is the orchestra? There is no standard orchestra form. Its size and composition will vary depending on the music. Depending on the type of repertoire and its period, the composer can specify the requirements. Seating arrangement or placement can also have a significant impact on the sound of an orchestra. Again, this element has no universal standard. In many books about orchestration and conducting, the seating of an orchestra is given little or no attention. The way an orchestra’s seating is set up has a profound impact on the sound and functionality of the ensemble. Despite its impact on musical outcomes, including the practicalities involved in music-making by players and conductors, as well the sound that music makes to an auditorium, seating is not flexible enough to be considered.
The four-note motif, which we have discussed above, is used to open the first movement. This is one of western music’s most famous opening themes. It is a matter of considerable controversy among conductors about the way to play the opening four bars. Others play it at a slower, more stately pace, while others prefer to give the motif an edgier treatment. It is essential to convey both the written and-twoandone as well as the intended spirit.
The first section is in Beethoven’s traditional sonata, which he inherited from Haydn, Mozart and other classical composers. In this movement, the themes that Beethoven introduces in the very first page are elaborately developed across many keys. A dramatic return to the beginning section occurs at approximately three-quarters. The first two phrases are dramatic and fortissimo, the famous theme, which grabs the attention of the listener.
Beethoven extends the theme by using imitations. The jumbled imitations tumble on top of each other in such a rhythmic pattern that it appears to be a single, flowing melodic line. The horns play a short fortissimo before the second theme is introduced. The second theme, in E-flat major relative to the first, is more lyrical and written on piano. It features the four note motif in the strings accompaniment. This four-note motif is used again in the codetta. The next section uses modulation, imitation and sequences, as well as the bridge. The recapitulation includes a solo passage for the oboe, in a quasi-improvisatory manner.