7th Symphony (Beethoven)

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Ludwig van Beethoven's 7th Symphony in A major op. 92 was composed between 1811 and 1812. The autograph score is dated May 13, 1812. The dedicatee is Moritz Reichsgraf von Fries .


When Beethoven began composing the 7th Symphony, Napoleon was planning his campaign against Russia . After the 3rd symphony, possibly also the 5th, the 7th symphony seems to be another musical confrontation between Beethoven and Napoleon and his politics, this time in the context of the European wars of liberation from years of Napoleonic supremacy.

At that time, Beethoven's life was marked by increasing hearing loss, which made it necessary to use “conversation books” from 1819 onwards, with the help of which Beethoven and his communication partners could communicate in writing.

The premiere took place on December 8, 1813. The first edition appeared in November 1816 by Steiner & Comp. (Score, parts and piano reduction).

Dedicated copy for Antonie Brentano

In 2018, a hitherto unknown copy of the score was discovered with the personal dedication on the title page: “To my highly esteemed friend Antonie Brentano von Beethoven”. Both were close friends between 1810 and 1812 when the work was created. Numerous scholars see Antonie Brentano as the addressee of the famous letter to the immortal beloved , which the composer wrote on 6/7. July 1812 in Teplitz wrote. Some other researchers do not share this hypothesis.

The valuable print was acquired by the Beethoven Center at San José State University in the USA .

Sentence names

  1. Poco sostenuto - Vivace
  2. Allegretto
  3. Presto
  4. Allegro con brio


There are two flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets, horns, timpani, 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, cello and double bass. The performance lasts between 35 and 42 minutes, with a shortening of the duration mostly due to repetitions of the exposure in the 1st and 4th movements that were not performed .

Orchestral scoring 2, 2, 2, 2 - 2, 2, 0, 0, timp, 14/12/10/8/6

To the music

First sentence

In the first 62 bars of the first movement the rhythm that determines the whole work develops more and more until it finally manifests itself in the first four bars of Vivace. This rhythm prompted Richard Wagner to describe the symphony as the “ apotheosis of dance”; Hector Berlioz, in turn, compared the first movement with a “ronde de paysans” (German: “peasant dance”). The main motif in the 1st movement shows similarities with the 2nd theme of the 4th movement of the Symphony in D major KV 97 , which may have been composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart . The musicologist Neal Zaslaw wrote of this similarity:

“The anticipation of a passage in the 1st movement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony is ghostly, not only because of the theme, but also because of its immediate repetition in minor. Beethoven could not have known this unpublished work. So we either have to believe in an astonishing coincidence or assume that both of them were inspired by the work of a third party unknown to us. "

- Neal Zaslaw : Mozart's earliest symphonies. Symphony in D major, KV 73m / 97; London 1986

Second sentence

Like the first, the second movement is mainly determined by the rhythm. Wolfgang Osthoff relates the solemn character of this sentence to the litany formula "Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis" and compares it to a procession. In this movement Beethoven breaks with tradition by having it begin and end with an sixth fourth chord , which according to tradition was only allowed to lead over to the cadenza in the solo concerto .

Five years before composing the 7th Symphony, Beethoven had originally planned to use the theme of the second movement for the slow movement in his String Quartet No. 9 in C major, Op. 59.3 . According to Karl Nef , the middle part of the movement, with a melody for clarinet and bassoon, borrows motifs from the aria "You will be rewarded in better worlds" from Beethoven's opera " Fidelio ".

Third sentence

The third movement begins with the modified theme of the introduction and, with its lively character, forms a contrast to the Allegretto. The thematic work consists of repetitions that are not completed in any voice. The Scherzo, which consists of five parts (ABABA) (such a five-part division can also be found in Beethoven's fourth symphony as well as some other works from Beethoven's middle period) ends relatively abruptly with five orchestral beats, which Robert Schumann said with the words “You can see the composer properly throw away the pen ”.

Fourth sentence

The stormy character of the fourth movement supposedly prompted Carl Maria von Weber to declare Beethoven “ripe for the madhouse” (according to other sources it was the first movement); Clara Schumann's father Friedrich Wieck speculated that "this symphony could only be composed in an unhappy - in a drunken state, namely the first and the last movement". It is uncertain whether Beethoven was inspired by the Irish folk song Nora Creina , by csárdás rhythms or by the triumphal march Le Triomphe de la République , written by François Joseph Gossec . In his book From Beethoven to Mahler , musicologist Martin Geck writes that “the proclamation of ethos” from the final movements of Beethoven's third , fifth , sixth and ninth symphonies does not appear in the finale of the 7th symphony: “With its main theme […] it turns to the senses rather than to the mind, encourages letting go rather than collecting, is more directed towards physical expression than inner sublimation. ”Here too, Harry Goldschmidt works out the political semantics of this“ frenzied final figure ”:“ A more rousing one Beethoven no longer composed the final movement. In the end, the enemies are literally 'driven into pairs' in giant ladder figures that cross over the entire orchestra. You can understand the young Bettina von Arnim when she wrote to the Egmont poet that while listening to this music she had imagined 'having to go ahead of the peoples with a flying flag'. [...] So Beethoven's A major symphony [...] appears as his great appeal for the liberation of peoples. "


The symphony was premiered a month and a half after the Battle of Leipzig on December 8, 1813, together with Wellington's victory or the Battle of Vittoria in the great Redoutensaal of the University of Vienna as a benefit concert for the benefit of the anti-Napoleonic fighters under Beethoven's direction and was an extraordinarily great success. Well-known musicians such as Romberg , Spohr , Hummel , Meyerbeer , Salieri and probably Mauro Giuliani , who played the cello, sat in the orchestra, which was extensively equipped according to Beethoven's instructions . At this first performance, and also at the second on December 12 of the same year, the audience asked for the second movement da capo . We learn from Beethoven's Adlatus Schindler: "The outbursts of jubilation during the A major symphony and the 'Battle of Vittoria' [...] exceeded anything that had been experienced in the concert hall up to that point." In Beethoven's address of thanks to the participants, the motifs are open pronounced: "Nothing fills us all but the pure feeling of love for the country and of the joyful sacrifice of our strength for those who have sacrificed us so much."

The Allgemeine Musikische Zeitung wrote about the 7th symphony:

“Above all, the new, first-mentioned symphony deserves that great approval and the extraordinarily good reception that it received. You have to hear this latest work of the genius B.'s himself, and probably also as well executed as it was executed here, in order to fully appreciate its beauties and to be able to fully enjoy them. Ref. Considers this symphony, after having been listened to twice, [...] to be the richest in melody, the most pleasing and the most comprehensible of all B.'s symphonies. […] The Andante [ sic! ] (A minor) had to be repeated every time and delighted connoisseurs and non-connoisseurs. "

- "Allgemeine Musical Zeitung" : January 26, 1814, column 70

Use in films (selection)

The 2nd movement of the 7th symphony in particular was often used as film music:


  • Harry Goldschmidt : Beethoven. Factory introductions. Reclam, Leipzig 1975, ISBN 978-8884567895 .
  • Renate Ulm (Ed.): The 9 symphonies of Beethoven. Origin, interpretation, effect. Foreword by Lorin Maazel . 6th edition. Bärenreiter, Kassel et al. 2009, ISBN 978-3-7618-1241-9 , (Bärenreiter introduction to works) .
  • Kurt Dorfmüller, Norbert Gertsch and Julia Ronge (eds.): Ludwig van Beethoven. Thematic-bibliographical catalog of works. Munich 2014, Volume 1, pp. 586-598.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Harry Goldschmidt : Beethoven. Factory introductions. Reclam, Leipzig 1975, pp. 29-33, 39-43 and 49-55. According to Goldschmidt, the same critical examination of Napoleon also determined other works by Beethoven, such as the 5th Symphony (1804–1808), the Coriolan Overture (1807), the 5th Piano Concerto (1809), the music to Goethe's “ Egmont ”, op 84 (1810) and the symphony “ Wellington's Victory or The Battle of Vittoria” (1813) (cf. ibid: pp. 39ff, 95ff, 52ff, 329ff).
  2. Renate Ulm (Ed.): The 9 symphonies of Beethoven. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1994, ISBN 3-7618-1241-8 , p. 214.
  3. ^ Website of the Beethoven Center
  4. Renate Ulm (Ed.): The 9 symphonies of Beethoven . Bärenreiter, Kassel 1994, ISBN 3-7618-1241-8 , p. 204.
  5. Harry Goldschmidt: “Beethoven's pupil Czerny also testified that the work owed its creation to the 'events of the time'. That did not prevent Richard Wagner from talking about an 'apotheosis of dance'. The contaminating role of rhythm, its dithyrambic expressive power, which without ever getting lost, appears to be heightened to the point of intoxication, has far more realistic roots. What Beethoven noted back then about enharmonic changes - 'they really should bring about a change in every listener' - was no less true for the rhythm. Everyone knows what rhythm can do. Should it have escaped Beethoven of all people? The meaning was very clear and programmatic: activation, appeal . ”(Harry Goldschmidt: Beethoven. Werkeinführung. Reclam, Leipzig 1975, p. 50.)
  6. ^ A b Lewis Lockwood : Beethoven. His music - his life. Metzler 2009, p. 181.
  7. ^ Neal Zaslaw: Mozart's earliest symphonies. Symphony in D major, KV 73m / 97 Text contribution to: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Early Symphonies 1764–1771 , German translation by Henning Weber from 1982. Recording by the Academy of Ancient Music ; Concertmaster Jaap Schröder, continuo: Christopher Hogwood. Decca Record, London 1986.
  8. Wolfgang Osthoff : On the conceptual content of the Allegretto in Beethoven's 7th Symphony. In: Archives for Musicology . Vol. 34, issue 1, 1977.
  9. Harry Goldschmidt creates the political context : “No funeral march like in the 'Eroica', but an endless funeral procession of millions. It is dedicated to those 'who have sacrificed so much to us'. ”Harry Goldschmidt: Beethoven. Factory introductions. Reclam, Leipzig 1975, p. 53. (The quote from Beethoven comes from his address of thanks to those involved in the premiere of the symphony; see section “Effect”.)
  10. Renate Ulm (Ed.): The 9 symphonies of Beethoven . Bärenreiter, Kassel 1994, p. 207.
  11. ^ Alan Tyson : The Razumovsky Quartet. Some Aspects of the Sources , in: Beethoven Studies , ed. by Alan Tyson, New York 1973 (vol. 1), London 1977 (vol. 2), Cambridge 1982 (vol. 3), vol. 3, p. 126f.
  12. ^ Karl Nef: Beethoven's nine symphonies . Leipzig 1928, reprint Wiesbaden 1970.
  13. Lewis Lockwood: Beethoven: His Music - His Life. Metzler 2009, p. 182
  14. ^ A b Martin Geck: From Beethoven to Mahler - The music of German idealism . Stuttgart / Weimar 1993.
  15. ^ Harry Goldschmidt: Beethoven. Factory introductions. Reclam, Leipzig 1975, p. 54.
  16. Renate Ulm (Ed.): The 9 symphonies of Beethoven . Bärenreiter, Kassel 1994, p. 213.
  17. cit. after Harry Goldschmidt: Beethoven. Factory introductions. Reclam, Leipzig 1975, p. 49.
  18. cit. after ibid; What is meant here, one and a half months after the “Battle of the Nations”, are above all the countless soldiers who died in the anti-Napoleonic wars.
  19. Wordpress
  20. Tower.com ( Memento from February 28, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  21. ^ End of world scene from The Knowing Beethoven music
  22. The Fall (2006) soundtracks
  23. The faster time ( Memento from March 14, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  24. IMDb
  25. The Man from Earth (2007) soundtracks
  26. The Better Life (2011) - Soundtracks . IMDb. Retrieved January 18, 2014.