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RMCO Work Detail

Title Symphony No. 8, Op. 93 in F
Composer Beethoven, Ludwig van
Contributor's Name Ty Thornton
Bio Movements: Allegro vivace e con brio / Allegretto scherzando / Tempo di menuetto / Allegro vivace

Beethoven was a many-sided man, at once gentle and violent, a man of powerful inner conflicts. This may account, in part, for the tensions and the titanic sense of battle that have always struck listeners in his more heroic works. The many sides of his character are also reflected in the striking contrasts among his compositions. He was simultaneously at work on his 7th and 8th symphonies, both begun in 1811. Hardly had he finished the explosive Scherzo and the whirlwind Finale of the 7th when he turned his full attention to its gentler companion, the 8th, dated October 1812. When a friend pointed out that the new 8th received less applause than the more immediately popular 7th, Beethoven growled, "That's because the 8th is so much better!" Indeed, its whole texture is incomparably more fine spun, more sophisticated, and in many ways even more adventurous, despite its seeming restraint.

In the opening movement of the symphony, Beethoven seems to affect 18th century elegance, but after a decorous bow, he goes surging ahead in his accustomed giant stride. He manages each change of pace with dexterity and wit and develops his principal theme by chopping it in half and tossing it from one instrument of the orchestra to another. As the listener will easily recognize, the following movement is dedicated to Maelzel, who perfected the metronome at about the same time as the completion of the symphony. More surprised follow, including a ravishingly beautiful duet for horns and a glittering, dancing Finale that starts with a breathless whisper.


Work record last updated on 07-16-2004