Sound of Charlotte Blog

9 Things You Should Know About Beethoven's Symphony No. 9

Before you step into the concert hall to experience the most performed orchestral work of all time, check out some little known facts about Beethoven's Symphony No. 9! Witness this unparalleled expression of joy live with Christopher Warren-Green and your Charlotte Symphony on September 22, 23 & 24!


1. Symphony No. 9 was the last of Beethoven's symphonies, completed three years before his death in 1824.
 
2. Symphony No. 9 was premiered in Vienna on May 7, 1824.
 
3. When the piece premiered, Beethoven was completely deaf. At the end of the piece, the crowd burst into applause but Beethoven, who had been a few measures behind the symphony, continued to conduct. The contralto, Caroline Unger, walked over to Beethoven and turned him around so he could accept the rousing applause.
 
4. It is the first symphony to incorporate vocal soloists and chorus into what, until then, had been a purely instrumental genre. Words are sung in the final movement by four vocal soloists and a chorus.
 
5. The words in the final movement were taken from the "Ode to Joy" poem written by Friedrich von Schiller in 1785.
 
6. The Ninth is the most epic of Beethoven's symphonies, both in length and performers utilized. The piece is scored for soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists, mixed chorus, piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, and strings. 
 
7. Beethoven 9 was adopted as the European National Anthem in 1972. In 1985, it became the official anthem of the European Union.
 
8. When Philips started work on their new audio format known as a compact disc, many groups argued over what size it should be. They planned on having a 11.5 cm diameter CD while Sony planned on 10 cm. One bright chap insisted that one CD ought to have the capacity to contain a complete performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The duration ranges from about 65 to 74 minutes which requires a 12 cm diameter, the size of a CD.
 
9. Beethoven was a compositional rebel, rejecting standard classical practices in order to write with emotion. While many of his contemporaries were disgusted, if not intimidated by this, his influence on composers to come after him, like Brahms, Dvorak, and Mahler, shows how important a figure he was. 


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