Introduction to Classical Music/Works
Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C Minor
Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 was written between 1804 and 1808. This symphony is one of the most popular and well-known compositions in all of European classical music, and one of the most often-played symphonies. It is made of four movements: an opening sonata allegro, an andante, and a fast scherzo which leads attaca to the finale. First performed in Vienna's Theater an der Wien in 1808, the work achieved its prodigious reputation soon afterwards. It begins by stating a distinctive four-note "short-short-short-long" motif twice:
The symphony, and the four-note opening motif in particular, are well known worldwide, with the motif appearing frequently in popular culture, from disco to rock and roll, to appearances in film and television. During World War II, the BBC used the four-note motif to introduce its radio news broadcasts because it evoked the Morse code letter "V" (for "victory") (dot-dot-dot-dash).
Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 - I. Allegro con brio
Beethoven's Piano Sonata
Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor is a composition by Ludwig van Beethoven (Opus 31/2). It is usually referred to as "The Tempest" (or Der Sturm in German), but this title was not given by him. Instead, it comes from a claim by his associate, Anton Schindler, that the sonata was inspired by the Shakespeare play. However, much of Schindler's information is distrusted by classical music scholars. The piece consists of three movements and takes around twenty minutes to perform:
- Largo - Allegro
Each of the movements is in sonata form, though the second lacks much development. The first movement alternates between peacefulness and sudden turmoil, eventually expanding into a haunting "storm" in which the peacefulness is lost. The second movement in B flat major is slower and more dignified. It mimics the first movement through use of rolling arpeggios, and many other ideas in this movement mirror the first. For example, a figure in the eighth measure and parallel passages of the second movement is similar to a figure in the sixth measure of the first. The third movement, in the key of D minor, is very moving, first flowing with emotion and then reaching a climax, before moving into an extended development section which mainly focuses on the opening figure of the movement and meanders through many keys and dynamics, before entering the recapitulation and coda. This Sonata, though not as well known by the public, is a favorite among Beethoven enthusiasts.
Sonata No. 17 in D Minor The Tempest, Op. 31 No. 2 - I. Largo - Allegro
The mazurka is a stylized Polish folk dance in triple meter with a lively tempo, containing a heavy accent on the third or second beat. It is always found to have either a triplet, trill, dotted eighth note pair, or ordinary eighth note pair before two quarter notes. The dance became popular at ballroom dances in the rest of Europe during the nineteenth century. The Polish national anthem has a mazurka rhythm, but is too slow to be considered a mazurka. Several classical composers have written mazurkas, with the best known being the 57 composed by Frédéric Chopin for solo piano. Henryk Wieniawski wrote two for violin with piano (the popular "Obertas", op. 19), and in the 1920s, Karol Szymanowski wrote a set of twenty for piano and finished his composing career with a final pair in 1934.
Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 13
Bach's Goldberg Variations
The Goldberg Variations, BWV 988, are a set of 30 variations for harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach. First published in 1741 as the fourth in a series Bach called Clavier-Übung, "[[w:keyboard practice", the work is considered to be one of the most important examples of variation form. It is named after Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, who may have been the first performer.
Bach sample: Goldberg Variations Aria