Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Classical Era > Choral Fantasie in C Minor. Op. 80 (Beethoven)
Choral Fantasie in C Minor. Op. 80. [For Piano, Orchestra, and Chorus]
Ludwig Van Beethoven
1. Adagio (Piano)
2. Finale, Allegro.
a. Allegro (Orchestra).
b. Meno Allegro (Piano and Orchestra).
c. Allegretto, ma non troppo (Chorus).
Beethoven's sketch-book shows that some of the materials for the Choral Fantasie were collected as early as 1800, though it was not given until December 22, 1808, when Beethoven himself produced it. It is written in two general sections; an Adagio and Allegro, for piano solo, orchestra, solo quartet, and chorus. While the work is very beautiful and effective in hiomself, it derives special interest from its being the prototype of the Choral Symphony. The Fantasie was first published in 1811, under the title of "Fantasie für das Pianoforte, mit Begleitung des ganzen Orchesters und Chor" ("Fantasie for pianoforte with an accompaniment of full orchestra and chorus"), and was dedicated to Maximilian Joseph, king of Bavaria. The poem which forms the subject of the Finale was written by Kuffner, and is devoted to the phrase of music.
The Adagio with which the work opens is a fantasie for piano alone, after which the Finale begins with an Allegro in C minor. The opening theme of which is given out pianissimo by the basses in a very grave dignified manner and subsequently developed in canon form in the violins. The oboes and horns now introduce a new theme which is taken up by the piano with accompaniment of the horns, the melody being adapted from one of the Beethoven's songs ("Seufzer eines Ungeliebten"). First the piano and then the other instruments repeat this theme with variations, after which the entire orchestra brings it to a close in firm and stately style. A short phrase by the piano preludes a development of the first section of the melody through an Allegro, an Adagio, and a march tempo, at the end of which the piano introduces a new phrase closing with an arpeggio. A genuine ensues between the piano and basses, which comes to an end as the wind instruments give out the leading theme, which is first taken up by the solo voices with piano accompaniment and then by the full chorus and orchestra, bringing the work to a brilliant and powerful close.