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Analysis:
Ludwig
van
Beethoven’s
Symphony

No.
5,
Allegro
con
brio.


Wes
Rodenburg

Form
and
Analysis

Dr.
Jean
Henderson

5/4/2010




 
































































































































Rodenburg
|
 1


“There
fate
knocks
at
the
door!”
These
were
the
words
uttered
by
Ludwig


van
Beethoven
(1770
–
1827)
in
remark
to
the
tension
filled
“short‐short‐short‐

long,”
beginning
of
his
Fifth
Symphony
in
C
minor,
Allegro
con
brio.
His
words


suggest
a
specific
image
in
association
to
the
motive,
a
motive
that
has
echoed


through
his
time
and
into
the
present.
Despite
the
unique
way
that
Beethoven


transformed
his
motive
in
this
movement
and
the
effect
it
has
had
on
music
to
date,


its
form
is
typical
of
first
movements
of
symphonies
in
the
classical
era.



The
composition
of
the
Fifth
Symphony
took
place
during
the
period
that
is


marked
by
Beethoven’s
return
to
Vienna
from
Heiligenstadt.
He
had
been
in


Heiligenstadt
from
April
1802
to
October
that
same
year,
in
order
to
come
to
terms


with
his
hearing
loss,
which
he
had
been
experiencing
since
1796.
Though


Beethoven’s
hearing
continued
to
decline,
he
persisted
in
his
compositions
with


vigor;
he
is
quoted
as
saying
"I
am
not
satisfied
with
the
work
I
have
done
so
far.


From
now
on
I
intend
to
take
a
new
way.”
Beethoven
began
the
final
preparation
of


the
Fifth
Symphony
in
conjunction
with
the
Sixth
Symphony
in
1807;
and
presented


the
two
works
on
the
same
evening
in
December
of
1808,
at
the
Vienna
River


Theatre
in
Vienna.
The
debut
performance
was
not
particularly
memorable,


however,
a
second
performance
of
the
work
a
year
and
a
half
later
resulted
in
a
rave


review
by
ETA
Hoffman
in
the
General
Music
Journal
in
Germany,
describing
the


themes
with
vivid
imagery.


Radiant
beams
shoot
through
the
deep
night
of
this
region,
and
we
become

aware
of
gigantic
shadows
which,
rocking
back
and
forth,
close
in
on
us
and
destroy

all
within
us
except
the
pain
of
endless
longing—a
longing
in
which
every
pleasure

that
rose
up
amid
jubilant
tones
sinks
and
succumbs.
Only
through
this
pain,
which,

while
consuming
but
not
destroying
love,
hope,
and
joy,
tries
to
burst
our
breasts


 
































































































































Rodenburg
|
 2


with
a
full‐voiced
general
cry
from
all
the
passions,
do
we
live
on
and
are
captivated

beholders
of
the
spirits.1


The
first
movement
of
Beethoven’s
Symphony
No.
5
(Allegro
con
brio)
is
in


sonata‐allegro
form
and
begins
with
the
predominating
theme
that
characterizes
the


entire
work.
This
rhythmic
motive
serves
as
the
primary
theme
in
the
exposition
of


this
movement,
provides
the
momentum
toward
several
transitions,
and
provides


the
cadential
drive
at
the
conclusion
of
the
movement.
The
first
utterance
of
this


motive
contains
fermati,
which
disrupts
the
meter
of
the
piece
and
gives
it
an


improvised
or
primal
feel.
As
the
exposition
comes
into
full
stride,
the
rhythmic


motive
is
repeated
through
every
voice,
while
C
minor
tonality
is
established.
As
the


first
theme
comes
to
an
abrupt
end
at
m.
58,
the
primary
rhythmic
motive
is


manifested
into
the
parallel
key
of
Eb
Major
through
a
horn
call
at
m.
59,
which


bridges
to
the
second
theme.





For
the
entire
paper
and
form
chart
just
email
me
at


WesRodenburg@gmail.com



























































1ETA
Hoffman,
Allgemeine
Musikalische
Zeitung
12,
no.
40
(July
1810),
630‐642.