Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony
“He (Beethoven) was a pivotal figure in the transition from 18th century musical classicism to 19th century romanticism, and his influence on subsequent generations of composers was profound” Kerman and Tyson. Beethoven’s sixth symphony (also known as the pastoral symphony) has qualities of both the classical and romantic periods and illustrates Beethoven’s revolutionary ideas as well as highlights his classical influences. The programmatic nature of the piece is the dominant romantic feature although the use of brass and percussion as well as the dramatic dynamic changes are also characteristics from this era. However there are many classical influences in Beethoven’s work such as the balanced phrasing, the dominance of the strings in various movements and especially the use of the tonic and dominant throughout the entire piece (sub-dominants were a common attribute of romantic pieces). The various classical and romantic elements of Ludwig van Beethoven’s music are demonstrated throughout this symphony. The first movement is titled “Awakening of Cheerful Feelings upon Arrival in the Country". It is in sonata form which is the typical first movement in a classical symphony. Beethoven’s work was often structured very classically and the sixth symphony supports this. The repetition of the various subjects is symbolic of the “infinite repetition in patterns of nature” (Yvonne Frindle). This feature is very programmatic and therefore a romantic trait. The bird calls made by the strings in bar 151 are also programmatic. The instrumentation of this movement is quite classical as for majority of the movement the strings play the melody, although they are often taken over in parts by solo flutes, clarinets or oboe. The melody is based mainly upon the tonic and dominant and is diatonic. It is pleasing to the ear and is quite classical. The harmony is concordant, also a classical feature. The second movement, titled “By the Brook Side”, has both...
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