Beethoven – Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92

by Max Derrickson

Ludwig van Beethoven   (b Bonn, December 16, 1770; Vienna, March 26, 1827)

Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92
1. Poco sostenuto – Vivace
2. Allegretto
3. Presto – Assai meno Presto
4. Allegro con brio


Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 is undeniably one of the most beloved symphonies ever written, and its famous second movement, of course, is one of those rare creations that seem to appear perhaps once in a century.  Its premier in December, 1813, accompanied both his Eighth Symphony and his “Wellington’s Victory (Battle Symphony),” in a concert held to benefit disabled Austrian and Bavarian soldiers from the Battle of Hanau against Napoleon.

While we bask in a feeling of regality and gladness in the slow Introduction to the first movement, Beethoven is establishing two important parameters that will define the entire symphony – mood and rhythm.   [. . .]

The fourth movement Finale continues the breezy and frenetic nature of the Scherzo but with astonishing vitality.  The first two, short phrases provide much of what, again, will be a persistent rhythm throughout the movement, and then the first theme essentially begins a rollicking and steady descent into joyful lunacy, what the musicologist Donald Francis Tovey deliciously called a “triumph of bacchic fury.”