Relayed from the National Museum of Wales
National Orchestra of Wales
Happiness came to Beethoven when, in 1806, he became engaged to the Countess Therese of Brunswick. The engagement, alas, came to nothing in the end, but for the time being the Composer was in bliss; and this Symphony, written soon after that happy period began, was surely affected by his joyful feelings, for it is one of the most exhilarating of all the nine Symphonies.
It is in four Movements.
First Movement. A slow Introduction precedes the lively Movement, whose first main tune is heard on Strings and answered by Woodwind. The second main tune is a rustic little phrase in Bassoon, then Oboe, then high up in the Flute, which prolongs the Tune.
This leads into other tunes-first a boisterous one, then a quiet, conversational one in Woodwind. There is still more material, but this is the most important, and rules a delightful piece in which some attractive novelty is for ever cropping up.
Second Movement. This is in strict 'Sonata' form. It opens with a sustained, song-like first main tune in Strings. This is repeated by Woodwind, with decoration in Violins and pizzicato (plucked) accompaniment in the lower Strings. Afterwards, something of a climax is developed by full Orchestra. When this dies down, the Clarinet gives out the second main tune, another song-like melody. There is a soft string accompaniment. After this there is a very brief development section, followed by a regular recapitulation of the two main tunes.
Third Movement. A gay Minuet (with the usual 'Trio' as contrast in the middle) needs no special description. For once, however, Beethoven, after repeating his Minuet, gives both Minuet and Trio again, making a five-section piece.
Fourth Movement. A glorious bit of the cheeriest Beethoven, this, woven out of the usual two main tunes (first going off at once, and second entering, after a full orchestral climax and a dying down of the excitement, quietly and expressively.)