Programme Index

Discover 10,100,220 listings and 232,565 playable programmes from the BBC

This particular Symphony enters into every argument on 'Programme Music' or 'Absolute Music'-two technical terms which may be broadly defined thus; 'Programme Music' is music which is avowedly written on some literary or pictorial basis (that is, on a 'programme' of ideas outside music); 'Absolute Music' is music which has no basis exterior to itself-music pure and simple.
When Beethoven wrote his Pastoral Symphony he was at great pains to have it understood as (to use his own words) 'more expression of feeling than painting'. Listeners may find interest in deciding for themselves how far this is true.
I. Awakening of Joyful Feelings on Arrival in the Country.
(Quick, but not too quick). The First Movement is simply a delightful piece of music in which you may, if you wish, ignore the title. It is, in fact, in the usual First Movement form: two Main Tunes are given out in the Exposition, worked upon in the Development section, and repented in the Recapitulation.
The First Main Tune is very simple. A short phrase is played by Strings, is repeated (slightly differently) and continued, other instruments gradually joining in until something of a climax is built up. This ends on a rapidly repeated chord in Clarinets and Bassoons, answered by a rising phrase (derived from the First Main Tune) in First Violins. These two answering phrases are both repeated three times, then the Violins lend into the Second Main Tune. When listening to this, it is interesting to try to decide whether the treble or bass has the more important melody. For here are heard two tunes at the same time-a smooth, waving one which First Violins start, and another (in slower notes) played with it and below it by 'Cellos.
Note how, when First Violin and 'Cello have finished these little Tunes, each takes up the other's. Then the Flute enters with the slower-note Tune, and later other instruments, the volume of sound steadily increasing.
At the climax, the Strings are left to play still another short Tune. Two or three more are added. So we have here quite a group of tunes.
The Exposition ends in a whisper from the Strings.
The Development Section treats little but the First Main Tune. It and the Recapitulation maintain the feeling and style of the Exposition unbroken and are very straightforward.
The Coda (or 'tail-piece') is long, but contains nothing new. It merely brings the movement to a satisfying close.
III. A Village Festival.
(Quick). This is practically a country dance, German, of course, not English, though the first phrase is curiously like an Irish jig. The village band is at times clearly burlesqued, with its typical doh-soh-doh bass.

5WA Cardiff

Appears in

About this data

This data is drawn from the Radio Times magazine between 1923 and 2009. It shows what was scheduled to be broadcast, meaning it was subject to change and may not be accurate. More