Beethoven's Fifth Symphony Essay

586 words - 2 pages

Beethoven's Fifth Symphony

If you are part of society, I think it is safe to make the assumption you are familiar
with and have heard Symphony No. five by Beethoven. Whether it was a theme in movie
or part of an advertisement on TV, it captured your attention and added emotion and
excitement to the particular segment that it coincided with. Total unification and the
pervasive use of a single motif combine to make the Fifth Symphony, which had one of
the longest gestation periods of any Beethoven work, the first in which all movements are
shown plainly to be part of a cyclic design. The famous motif which dominates the first
movement in the form also makes significant appearances that are dramatic entrances in
the other three. This feature gives the Fifth Symphony its widespread popularity that it
has had over so many generations. Tonal unity is provided by the close relationship
between the parallel keys of C minor (the tonic) and C major, and the gradual yielding of
the minor to major in the course of the work. To help achieve this transfer of c control,
from minor to major, Beethoven is obliged to make an important change the traditional
Key relationships of a sonata movement in a minor key. Instead of having the tonic minor
govern the entire recapitulation in the first movement, he brings back the second subject
in the tonic major, as a simple transposition rather than the fundamental recasting. (In
this respect the movement anticipates the Romantic concept of thematic integrity and by,
extension, the idea of the theme as the focal point of a composition.)

The fifth Symphony in C minor is rightly considered the paradigm of Beethoven’s
symphonies; the various alternatives to sonata form, explored in the piano works, are put
to one side here in favor of the more rigorous example of Mozart,...

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