What did you all think of last week’s piece, Cheesy Concerto by Mozart? Don’t forget that you can find the links to all the pieces so far at the bottom of this blog post.
This week we will look at a very famous piece from Beethoven.
Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven (1712 – 1773)
Title: Symphony No.5 – 1st Movement
Genre: Classical Symphony
Background: The symphony begins with a group of four notes – ‘Da-da-da-DAAA!’ – which some said were the sound of Fate or Destiny knocking on the door. Whether you believe that or not, the opening of this masterpiece certainly grabs your attention! By the time Beethoven had started writing the work in 1805, he had also begun to go deaf. Imagine not being able to hear yourself or others play music or talk. For Beethoven this was real torture. The Fifth Symphony, however, shows him being determined to compose amazing music in spite of his deafness, and we hear those four knocks again and again as he fights against the unfairness of losing his hearing. We are just listening to the first ‘movement’ of the Fifth Symphony. A movement is the name given to each part of a symphony, and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which lasts about 40 minutes, has four of them. Many other symphonies also have four movements, but not all do – some have just one, and some have as many as six!
The Music Today: This is now one of the most famous and recognisable pieces of classical music ever composed and therefore has been used over and over again in a variety of ways. The music has been used in TV shows such as ‘Mr Bean’ and ‘Top Gear’ as well as films like ‘The Parent Trap’. Disney also used the opening of this movement as the beginning of their ‘Fantasia 2000’ DVD which you can view here if you have access to YouTube. . There is also a funny song about Beethoven’s Wig which if worth a listen.
Things to do:
1. Listen to the famous ‘Da-da-da-DAAA!’ at the very beginning. How many times can you hear this in the piece?
2. At 0:40 we hear an instrument on its own. Do you know what it is called? Which family of the orchestra do you think it belongs to?
3. We hear another instrument on its own at 2:54. What is this one called? How is it similar/different to the first instrument?
4. Sometimes, we hear the ‘Da-da-da-DAAA!’ played by a drum in the percussion family. Find out why this family is called ‘percussion’.
5. Beethoven went deaf at an early age. Which do you think is our most important sense? Sight? Touch? Taste? Hearing? Speech?
You can listen to the music on YouTube here.