All About Ludwig van Beethoven

Information on Beethoven, his life, his music and classical sheet music

Best 5 Beethoven Books on Amazon

1.Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris

2.Beethoven by Maynard Solomon

3.Beethoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood

4.Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination by Maynard Solomon

5.Beethoven as I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler

Classical Sheet Music Downloads at Virtual Sheet Music

Beethoven 9th Symphony. The Ode to Joy. Beethoven Symphony 9

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, op. 125 represents the apotheosis of Beethoven’s symphonies. The idea for this symphony tormented Beethoven for many years. Dating as far back as 1809, we find notes of musical ideas which will be later used for this symphony. The material he gathered was ultimately used between 1822-1824 when the great symphony was elaborated with chorus and soloists. Its general tone is happiness captured in multiple instances. Perhaps that is why it was also titled "The Symphony of Joy".

Schiller’s poem "The Ode to Joy" interested him from 1793 when he sought to write a song, but the musical theme of Part IV was written only a year before the completion of the symphony

Part I – Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso – constitutes an everlasting moment in the creation of the composer and proof of his creative genius. The secondary violins and the cellos constitute the musical background and, bit-by-bit, scattered sonorities of cvarta and cvinta come into place expressing a slight indecision. But afterwards, with incredible force, the first theme is introduced, contrasting with the secondary themes and motives derived from it.

Excerpt from Symphony No. IX, Part I

"This first somber introduction with epic character renders the bloody days of terror. The empire of freedom and union must be conquered. All the horrors of war constitute the musical substance of this first part…" - A.N.Serov quoted by Alsvang

Part II – Allegro vivace – is a joyful scherzo with a theme coined by Beethoven in 1815 initially meant for a fugato. Evidently he does not give up this idea, for the general form of this part is that of a fugato. It expresses joy of such intensity and depth that the repetition of the scherzo does not overshadow it.

Excerpt from Symphony No. IX, Part II

After this second part, the public burst into applause as Karl Holtz was recounting: "The instrumentalists had tears in their eyes. The maestro was constantly pointing the measure, up to the point when Umlauf, by a show of hands, pointed to the public. He looked around him and calmly bowed."

Part III – Adagio molto e cantabile – is marked by a different atmosphere than the previous parts, so we are under the impression that a new cycle begins. This is a moment of great lyricism, from which the composer eliminates any trace of doubt and conflict. The first theme can be considered a coral on a melodic construction, rendered by the chord instruments, and then followed by a secondary theme with a different structure (in ternary meter). It has a dancing disposition resulted from the removal of certain motifs, giving the impression of an "infinite, elliptical melody".

Excerpt from Symphony No. IX, Part III

Part IV – Allegro assai – represents the synthesis of the whole symphony, a memorable page in the book of universal culture.

Schiller wrote the poem "The Ode to Joy" in 1785 and it brought great enthusiasm at that time among the German youth, Beethoven included. Only he became aware of this poem much later, when he was 20, through one of his professors, Fischenich, also a friend of the Schiller family.

Read more about all the other Beethoven symphonies

Read more about Beethoven's music

  • The piano sonatas - Analysis of the sonata form and the most important Beethoven Piano Sonatas.
  • Trios - General discussion regarding Beethoven's trios for various instruments and ensembles.
  • Sonatas for Cello and Piano - Discussion about Beethoven's five cello and piano sonatas.
  • Sonatas for Violin and Piano - Overview of Beethoven's ten sonatas for violin and piano.
  • String Quartets - Brief analysis of Beethoven's seventeen string quartets.
  • The Opera "Fidelio" - The background, subject and influences of Beethoven's only opera.
  • The Concertos - Beethoven's five piano concertos, his violin concerto and triple concerto analyzed.
  • The Overtures - Brief overview of some of the most important Beethoven overtures.