Timbral Analysis of Beethoven's 5th Symphony in C Minor Essay

Words: 2246
Pages: 9

Tyler Martin
Advanced Orchestration
Symphony no. 5 in C minor Beethoven’s intent behind this piece is creating diversity out of unity. The unifying idea of the work is a series of three short notes followed by one long note. The diversity of the simple unifying idea therein is generated by the use of timbral development techniques and expansion of the orchestra; however, there are several performance practices and technical issues that impact the work’s total realization. The score referenced throughout this essay is the Kalmus Miniature Orchestra Scores version. Beethoven takes his initial motif, which is quite simple, and fleshes it out via timbral orchestration. Throughout each movement, he carefully places developmental and
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The same occurs in several measures throughout this movement (mm. 33, 37, 77, 85, etc.) Movement three is effectively part of a unit with movement four by way of an attacca between the movements, and the unification of the third and fourth movements is perhaps the most ingenious aspect of the third movement. Starting at measure three hundred twenty-four, the timpani play a relatively simple and delicate solo of the original motif on C while strings hold octave C’s. As the timpani solo evolves to continuous quarter notes, the violins and low strings begin adding different elements of this movement’s theme to their pad, modifying the chord on top of the C pedal from the timpani and other strings(mm. 339 – 349). The lows eventually settle on G while the violins continue to play the theme until the timpani and the strings switch to eighth notes in measure three hundred sixty-seven. The F major seven chord that is finally settled on for two measures brings with it the oboes and bassoons, and when the chord shifts to a G major seven, the horns and trumpets join. All the while, the pedal C is still being held by the timpani, and every section is in the middle of a crescendo that brings a powerful textural and volume crescendo to the downbeat of the ever-anticipated fourth movement. The first thing one hears in the fourth movement is a triumphant and loud brass and wind, fanfare-like melody accompanied by multiple stops in the strings. What