Beethoven was the ‘kickstart’ for a new outlook in musical history. He started as a slightly outrageous ‘classical’ composer and developed into more of a Romantic as he grew older. (Don’t we all?) If you trace his 9 symphonies (a classical form), the romantic content becomes more and more apparent.

No 1 – classically based with a few quirks.

No 3 – The ‘Eroica’ – a symphony about a political figure. Not just music for music’s sake.

No 5 – Based on probably the most famous 4 notes ever composed. (The whole symphony, that is!!)

No 6 – ‘The Pastoral’ – All about nature and the countryside.

No 9 – The infamous ‘Ode to Joy’ where for the first time ever, a choir joined the orchestra in a symphony in a song about joy, but unfortunately, not long after the first performance, Beethoven died.

Throughout his symphonies, he worked on music that was more and more descriptive and broke down the conventions of the Classical Period. The old sonata form was being pushed to the limits and Beethoven broke the traditional rules.

He wrote for bigger orchestras so there was the opportunity for much louder loud sections as well as enlarging the range of pitches with the addition of instruments like the piccolo right up in the squeaky area and the double bassoon right down in the sub area.

The orchestra was wider in range, much more capable of expressing a huge range of emotions, bigger and so it was louder and the old thoughts about musical form were really challenged.

This era starts with Beethoven and goes right through to the early 1900’s when romanticism started to appear in the form of nationalism and finally, in the modern period, the breaking down of tonality. (Doh ray meh fah – to make it easier to understand) and the emergence of what is known as the ‘Modern’ period.

I would suggest starting by tracing Beethoven’s symphonies and you will hear a clear development from the classicism of no 1 to the opulent romanticism of no 9. For me, the 9th symphony represents the start of modern sounds in orchestral music.

In the review section you can find reviews of interesting albums in this genre.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.