Beethoven’s 5th

I’m looking forward to this weekend’s concerts with the PSO at Heinz Hall… Let’s see, we’ve got…
Manfred Honeck, conductor and Yuja Wang, piano

  • Michael Gandolfi:       Garden of Cosmic Speculation
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff:        Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
  • Ludwig van Beethoven:        Symphony No. 5

I’ve never heard the first piece, but it certainly has a colorful name, and ought to be interesting. The Rachmaninoff is indeed spectacular, I’ve heard it so many times I can’t count, and I never grow tired. It’s been played countess times in the last few days on WQED-FM, just in time to perfectly whet my appetite!

Beethoven’s 5th symphony is one of the most popular and best-known compositions in all of classical music, and one of the most often played symphonies.[1] It opens with the following:


dit dit dit daaaaah
dit dit dit daaaaah

That’s my representation, the PSO has it as Dah Dah Dah Daah.

In Morse Code, it would translate to the letters S  T; what could that stand for? I’d say:

Symphony Transformative – for this symphony, along with Beethoven’s 3rd, altered radically in form or function the very power we encounter when we experience a symphony. I like to think of these masterpieces from Beethoven as a focal point in the history of music — everything before was as a pyramid building the structure for which Beethoven forms a pinnacle at the very top of the very form — everything since has been a metamorphosis of the cumulation of this form — therefore Beethoven is the pinnacle at a point in time for classical music or all forms of music for that matter. This idea I originally gleaned from Leonard Bernstein in his book: “The Joy of Music”. I’ve expounded on the idea in my own metaphor of beauty – a point in time where beauty is so sharply focused, nothing before or ever again will seem as good.

Bernstein says in a conversation with friends, wondering why we all believe Beethoven is the greatest composer who ever lived:

“Beethoven — like him? I’m all for him! I adore Beethoven. I’d just like to know why Beethoven and not Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schumann-“

And that’s what I’m wondering as well. Why does the PSO lead or end their concerts so often with Beethoven. Because we all seem to love him. His music is a joy. Bernstein goes on to convince his friends that each of the elements of composition: melody, harmony, rhythm, counterpoint, orchestration, when taken apart, dissected, don’t necessarily show a particular greatness individually by itself. It’s the development and the wonderful way in which the music is  amalgamated together that somehow produce a perceived statement of sharply focused beauty. It’s been a while since I read this book, I’m going to go out and read it one more time, it’s quite entertaining, in fact, it’s a joy.

This is me standing in the garden of Heinz Hall, which I understand has now been re-modeled:

standing in the garden of Heinz Hall



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