“Pastoral” Symphony

By Ludwig van Beethoven
Composed in 1808

This is one of the best-known and most programmatic symphonies in classical music.

Composed in 1808, it reflects Beethoven’s deep feeling for nature, no doubt due in some measure to his numerous walks in the countryside around Vienna. Each of the five movements is subtitled and reflects a particular mood.

The first movement allegro (“awakening of joyful feelings on arriving in the country”) is announced by the violins, and in turn taken up by winds and the full orchestra. “Scene at the brook” features a rustling accompaniment of second violins, violas and solo ‘cellos set against melodic motifs in the first violins and winds. Rustic dances are featured in the “happy gathering of the country folk” which follows.

The dramatic “thunder, storm” movement, with sudden bursts by timpani and brass, suddenly interrupts the country revels. Then the storm departs, the sun breaks through, and the “shepherd’s song,” with “happy and thankful feelings after the storm,” takes us to the end of this musical journey.

The second movement, as performed in May, 2014.

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