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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Classical Era > Symphony No. 8, in F. Op. 93. (Beethoven)


Symphony No. 8, in F. Op. 93.

Ludwig Van Beethoven
(1770-1827)



1. Allegro vivace e con brio.
2. Allegretto scherzando.
3. Menuetto e Trio.
4. Finale. Allegro vivace.

The Eighth Symphony was written in 1812 at Linz, whither Beethoven had repaired upon the advice of his physician for the benefit of his health. It was composed at a sad period of his life, for besides his sufferings from shattered health he was engaged in a most unpleasant lawsuit forced upon him by his unworthy sister-in-law and undertaken in the interest of a graceless nephew. Notwithstanding these depressing events the symphony is one of the brightest, most cheerful, and most humorous works that he ever conceived. He speaks of it himself in a letter as the "Kleine Sinfonie in F," not that it was little, but to distinguish it from the "Grosse Sinfonie in A " (the Seventh) composed in the same year.

As if serious preparation were unnecessary he plunges at once into the work and opens the first Allegro with the main theme:

[Music excerpt]

An intermediate phrase leads in to the second theme which, containing a short ritardando, is then repeated in the wind instruments, and after a series of modulations runs into a motive for the full orchestra:

[Music excerpt]

The first part closes with the following skipping figure:

[Music excerpt]

which is in reality only an extension into the octave of the motive of b. The latter is frequently utilized during the second part in connection with the motive from the opening phrase, which is employed with all the art of the contrapuntist either in imitations or enlarged into longer phrases for the basses, which during seventy-six measures really dominate the melody and finally rest on the octave skip at e. Then follows a pianissimo passage, which leads in canon from through a crescendo to a hold, after which a Coda brings the first movement to a close.

The slow movement is again supplanted by an Allegretto scherzando. It is the well-known --

[Music excerpt]

which depends on its staccato character and fine instrumentation for its daintiness, and has only one legato phrase in the whole movement.





The Minuet appears this time in its own true character, and develops the stately dance with its gliding figures to perfection. The third part, or Trio, has this opening for the horns --

[Music excerpt]

The Minuet is then repeated.

The last part opens with this tremulous figure for the violins, pianisimo:

[Music excerpt]

The second thme is the following cantilena:

[Music excerpt]

After a jubilant fortissimo about the middle of the movement, the music is interrupted by frequent rests, the triplet figure gliding past, stopping short, then rushing on again to a second hold, after which a new design is introduced in a descending scale in the strings, and is opposed in the wind instruments by a similar scale, ascending. These scales move quietly and pianissimo in semibreves, while the triplet figure is fitting about here and there until the scale motive is brought in, fortissimo. The main themes are once more hastily touched, and the movement exhausts itself in a long repetition of the final chord, as if trying to reach for the longed-for rest.





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