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items tagged with Ludwig van Beethoven

The Quiet Outlier: The Quad City Symphony Performs Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 6,” November 3 and 4
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-10-26 11:30:04

In the middle of the turbulently self-expressive, politically conflicted, structurally groundbreaking nine symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven is a quiet outlier, a revolutionary work whose only discord is a thunderstorm.

It’s hard to believe, but the tumultuous Fifth and the mild-mannered Sixth symphonies were premiered in the same ice-cold Vienna theater on December 22, 1808. Conceptually contrasting pieces, each work taps into a distinctly different aspect of Beethoven’s personality. No. 5 is an emphatic example of how he portrayed his life through music – bitterness with Vienna, romantic failures, increasing deafness, and frustration with the music politics of the aristocracy. But Symphony No. 6 (“Pastorale”) is devoid of this me-against-the-world battle. The conflict is gone because Beethoven had no conflict with nature. No. 6 is simply an observation and organization of what he called “the feelings of nature” put into music, and it enlarged the possibilities for the symphony as a form.

When Maestro Mark Russel Smith cues the Quad City Symphony to begin the “Pastorale” on November 3 and 4, don’t listen for themes of fate, politics, or philosophy; let Beethoven’s retreat into nature be your respite for 40 minutes. He points the way in his musical story by titling each movement so we know exactly what it’s depicting – a first for a large-scale symphony.

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