Beethoven Symphony N°5 1st Movement 'Allegro con brio' The 5th symphony was started in 1804 and finished in 1808. It was a commissioned piece. It is part of Beethoven's late period. His deafness had started as one can hear by the lack of pianissimos in the symphony…
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The word 'theme' and 'motif' have been used interchangeably. The first movement can be divided into the exposition section, the development section, the recapitulation and the coda. The first movement opens in c minor and finishes in c minor. There are two common themes which are introduced in the first movement and written throughout the symphony. The paper will analyze the first movement. The exposition section introduces the famous four note motif which is often referred to as the "fate motif". There are some who consider it an 8 note motif as it starts in C- and then goes immediately to C major. Throughout this movement the motif is never just four notes. There is always a duality. The first four notes are followed by a pause as though Beethoven is catching his breath. The second four notes which are also played by the winds and brass are also followed by a pause. This motif is used as the theme throughout the whole symphony. In the first section he opens the symphony with the full string orchestra with the brass; then the string take the motif. We hear his strong Haydn influence. He uses Haydn's technique of contrapuntal use of the motif when the strings talk back and forth. There is a crescendo with the brass using the motif and changing keys to Eb major. He introduces a trumpet fanfare in the rhythm of the four note motif. It is followed by the strings. There is an introduction of a new theme with the strings and clarinets. This is a two note theme. The cellos still are able to play the four note theme. Knowing that Beethoven lived in the country, his joy of being able to hear the trumpets would have influenced his introducing the fanfare in the exposition section as he walked on the property singing to himself. We cannot call it pastoral but it is full of emotion and controversy from a man who realized he only had music in his head. In the development section, he interposes the harmonies and melodies of both themes. The instruments are separated where the strings and woodwinds first start with the two note theme as they are going questioning each other; then go back and forth with one note. The four note theme is used to give an element of surprise: first by the brass then by the strings and woodwinds. The fate motif is used in a crescendo to build up to the recapitulation. In the recapitulation section, the orchestra is in the full forte with the four note fate theme. The timpani is the heart of this section. The strings answer but for the first time we hear the woodwinds playing the harmony ending the oboe solo which acts like a cadenza to the section. The strings build up in a crescendo to the trumpet and trombone fanfare with one bassoon, then the strings play with the woodwinds responding. The measures are played in staccato with the trombones, and strings repeating the chords of theme and the winds answering. In the Coda, the whole orchestra is playing the four note motif only to end the finale measure with the chords (V I V) The ending on a fifth prepares the transition from the first movement to the 2nd movement. The first movement is the beginning of Beethoven admitting that he has a hearing loss. He shows to the world that it iwas fate and he would not let it deter from his composing. "The Fate Motif was fate knocking at the door"(Gibbs 2006) It has never been proven if Beethoven actually made the reference to his front door. His music is expressive jolting and full of severe emotions. Sometimes you can see yourself
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