Composer Study: Beethoven
Beethoven’s music is grouped into three periods, early, middle, and late.
Note: You might wonder what “Op.” means – this stands for “Opus” and the numbers refer to the order in which a composer wrote his works. So, Op. 1 would mean the first piece he wrote. The higher the number, the later in his life the piece was composed.
Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 - “Pathétique”
Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 27 - “Moonlight”
Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55 – “Eroica” (“Heroic”)
This is a BBC documentary film which dramatizes the first performance of this symphony, with actual musicians playing period instruments. It gives a fantastic background on the time period and Beethoven himself, as well as a performance of the entire symphony.
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, Op. 61
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 – “Fate”
This video features a fantastic young conductor who grew up in a poor family in Venezuela and was part of the youth symphony program there called “El Sistema”
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 – “Pastoral”
Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 – “Choral”
This, Beethoven’s last symphony, calls for a choir and four vocal soloists to join in for the final movement. The words that are sung in German are based on the poem “Ode to Joy” by Frederick Schiller. The final stanza reads:
Do you bow down before Him, you millions?
Do you sense your Creator, O world?
Seek Him above the canopy of stars!
He must dwell beyond the stars.