Beethoven Symphony No. 1, Op. 21, C MajorBeethoven began writing Symphony No. 1 in 1799. It premiered April 2, 1800, in Vienna. Compared to other Beethoven symphonies, this symphony sounds the tamest. However, when it premiered, imagine how the audience reacted. After all, they were used to hearing the purely classical styles of Haydn and Mozart. They must have been shocked to hear the piece begin on a dissonant chord.
Beethoven Symphony No. 2, Op. 36, D MajorBeethoven laid the ground for this symphony at least three years before its completion in 1802. This was a dramatic time for Beethoven as his hearing was quickly diminishing. Some believe the overall sunny nature of this symphony is Beethovens personal will to overcome his problem. Others believe the opposite: not every composer writes music set to their own inner-struggles; Beethoven was almost suicidal because of his hearing.
Beethoven Symphony No. 3, Op. 55, E flat Major, EroicaThe Eroica Symphony was first performed privately in early August, 1804. We know from discovered writings of Lobkowitz, one of Beethovens patrons, that the first public performance was on April 7, 1805 at the Theater-an-der-Wien in Vienna, Austria. It is clear that the performance was not as well accepted or understood as the composer would have liked. Harold Schonberg tells us that, Musical Vienna was divided on the merits of the Eroica. Some called it Beethovens masterpiece. Others said that the work merely illustrated a striving for originality that did not come off.
Full Review: Beethoven "Eroica" Symphony
Beethoven Symphony No. 4, Op. 60, B flat MajorWhile Beethoven was composing his famous 5th Symphony, he set it aside to work on a symphonic commission he received from the Sicilian Count, Oppersdorff. Much is unknown why he set it aside; perhaps it was too heavy and dramatic for the Count's liking. As a result, Symphony No. 4, composed in 1806, became one of Beethovens lighter symphonies.
Beethoven Symphony No. 5, Op. 67, C MinorComposed during 1804-08, Beethoven premiered Symphony No. 5 in Viennas Theater an der Wein on December 22, 1808. Beethovens Symphony No. 5 is by far the most well known symphony in the world. Its opening four notes are far from being indistinguishable. When Symphony No. 5 premiered, Beethoven also premiered Symphony No. 6, but in the actual concert program, the numbers of the symphonies were switched.
Beethoven Symphony No. 6, Op. 68, F Major, PastoralIn the concert program in which it first premiered, Beethoven labeled Symphony No. 6 with the title Recollections of Country Life. Although many believe this symphony to house some of Beethovens most beautiful writing, the audience at its first performance was not too happy with it. I would probably agree with them after having heard Symphony No. 5 before it. However, Beethovens Pastoral Symphony remains popular and is played in symphony halls throughout the world.
Beethoven Symphony No. 7, Op. 92, A MajorBeethovens Symphony No. 7 was completed in 1812 and conducted its premier on December 8, 1813 in the University of Vienna. Beethovens Symphony No. 7 is widely viewed as a symphony of dance, where as, Wagner described it as the apotheosis of the dance. Its highly enjoyable, haunting 2nd movement was often most encored.
Beethoven Symphony No. 8, Op. 93, F MajorThis symphony is Beethovens shortest. It is often referred to as The Little Symphony in F Major. Its duration is roughly 26 minutes. Amongst a sea of exuberant symphonies, Beethovens Symphony No. 8 is often overlooked. Beethoven composed this symphony in 1812 at the age of 42. It premiered two years later on February 27, alongside Symphony No. 7.