CHORAL 7 – Beethoven & the symphony

Beethoven ended his 9th and last symphony [1824] with the human voice. His setting of Friedrich Schiller’s Ode to Joy is a hybrid, a combination of choral symphony – complete with opening allegro, scherzo, slow movement and finale – and variation form.

But it’s not just the form that’s unusual, the content’s also a strangely mixed bag of ‘horror’ fanfares and fugues and – in the middle of it all – the arrival of a French Revolutionary wind band! A mess? Well, that’s the odd thing, it works!!


The score:

A particularly messy page from the first movement (poor copyists!!)

The tidier Beethoven: the beginning of the double fugue in the finale

… but, don’t worry, you won’t have to wade through the composer’s errant calligraphy if you want to follow the score. Here’s a much more legible version:

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