Beethoven’s Ninth and the birth of musical analysis

Posted on: February 21, 2018

“Ugly, wretched, unkempt, and inflexible. Those are some of the legendary descriptions of Ludwig von Beethoven, a 19th century radical,” writes Daniel Boothe, music director of Symphonicity, based in Virginia Beach, in Thursday’s (2/15) Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA). Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony “began without a full harmonic key to the music, and it possessed no perceivable rhythm…. The second movement … trumpeted a fast ‘scherzo’ in triple time, which would normally be reserved for the third movement…. A slow theme, which normally would be placed in the second movement, now arrived in the third…. This final movement was heard by critics of the time (and thereafter) as a bit of a disaster …  healed by … a tune in the most simple of forms … his ‘Ode to Joy’ theme, which … has become perhaps the most recognizable tune in the world…. The utter confusion from Beethoven’s final symphony prompted an entire new field of study to emerge called musical analysis. This scholarship has revealed that Beethoven’s final symphony was not the catastrophe that many attributed to his deafness, old age or eccentric personality. It was the work of a prophetic musical genius.”

Posted February 21, 2018