Tune of the Day: Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
The opening of Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony just could be the most memorable musical phrase of all time, with its four-note motif appearing frequently in popular culture, from disco to rock and roll, to film and television.
This symphony is also notable for the amount of time it spent in gestation. The first sketches date from 1804, following the completion of the Third Symphony. However, Beethoven repeatedly interrupted his work on the Fifth to prepare other compositions, including the first version of Fidelio, the Appassionata piano sonata, the three Razumovsky string quartets, the Violin Concerto, the Fourth Piano Concerto, and the Fourth Symphony. The final preparation of the Fifth Symphony, which took place in 1807–1808, was carried out in parallel with the Sixth Symphony, which premiered at the same concert. Beethoven was in his mid-thirties during this time, and his personal life was already troubled by increasing deafness.
The symphony soon acquired its status as a central item in the repertoire. Groundbreaking both in terms of its technical and emotional impact, it has had a large influence on composers and music critics, and inspired work by such composers as Brahms, Tchaikovsky (his 4th Symphony in particular), Bruckner, Mahler, and Berlioz. The Fifth stands with the Third Symphony and Ninth Symphony as the most revolutionary of Beethoven's compositions.