Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No 5 in four movements is a landmark work in the history of music. The iconic melody starts with four distinctive notes:—three short notes, followed by one long note—the symphony’s unmistakable and omnipresent opening motif. It is commonly believed that with these four notes, Beethoven wanted to symbolize fate knocking at man’s door. It was on December 22, 1808 that the “Symphony of Fate” was performed for the first time at an immense concert as the composer was about to leave Vienna.
In addition to the Fifth Symphony, the evening’s program included Symphony No 6 (the “Pastoral”), Piano Concerto No 4, played by Beethoven himself, two movements from the Mass, the aria Ah! Perfido, and Choral Fantasy for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra (Op. 80). Unfortunately, the musicians had a poor handle on the new, complex sheet music and their performance wasn’t up to snuff, and Symphony No 5 - an unusual composition unveiled at the end of a four-hour concert—failed to win over the tired, inattentive audience. It was only later, thanks to artist, writer, composer and critic (and The Nutcracker author) E.T.A. Hoffmann, that the piece was finally acknowledged as a masterpiece. In fact, Hoffman published a long, glowing review in which he described the symphony as an “irresistible” work that “transports the listener through ever-growing climaxes into the spiritual realm of the infinite.”
Over 200 years have passed since the premiere of the extraordinary Symphony no. 5, a jewel of the symphonic repertoire. Performed countless times all over the world, the work unquestionably demonstrates the creator’s genius, innovating both technically and in regard to its emotional impact. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony remains a seminal work of the classical repertoire and continues to inspire composers and creators from every walk of life as one of Beethoven’s most groundbreaking symphonies.