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  • Writer's pictureCarter Willmann

Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

Good morning students!

In honor of Spring and this past Easter weekend I'd like to offer up some music by Beethoven! One of my favorite symphonies from Beethoven is his 6th symphony or "Pastoral Symphony." Beethoven loved nature and would escape the city frequently to write his music in more rural areas. This symphony is heavily inspired by his time outdoors and is one of only a few works of his that has programmatic themes. Programmatic music provides themes that provide narratives that tell a story.

We start with the 1st movement which is cheerful depicting Beethoven's initial feelings while arriving in the county! The 2nd movement is serene and relaxing depicting flowing waters and bird calls towards the end of the movement. I envision Beethoven sitting by a river or brook in this movement. The 3rd movement is energetic based on folk music and runs directly into the 4th movement depicting the sudden oncoming of a violent thunderstorm! In this movement you can hear Beethoven's musical depiction of thunder, lightning as well as sheets of rain and wind. The drama eventually passes to depict sun beams clearing through the clouds which unfolds into a beautiful depiction of a sparking clear day just after a good rain.

Here are the times for each movement.

I - 0:00

II - 11:40

III - 24:07

IV - 29:00

V - 32:20

The work is so descriptive in its rendition of these themes that Disney was inspired to include the work in its first "Fantasia" movie! This 3 part video series depicts movements 3-5. My apologies for the slightly racist undertones. It was a product of its time.

Every time I smell a spring flower for the first time or see the first signs of fresh growth after winter I think of this piece and make a point to listen to it. I hope you all enjoy it. It is definitely close to my heart!

See you all online soon! Carter Willmann

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