Commentaries on the Exhibit’s Works




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A brief commentary prepared by Richard Chenoweth, PhD, Professor, Music, on the following work:

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Opus 67
1809; first edition of full score


With one of the most distinctive melodic and rhythmic motifs in Western music, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Opus 67, is a musical masterpiece.Though initial public reaction was rather indifferent, the Fifth Symphony became a symbol for the changing concept of music as a deeply emotional, spiritual, and intellectual art form. It left behind the song-like melodies, lilting dance tunes, and virtuosic finales of the late 1700s to usher in a bolder concept—one that engaged audiences in the music’s emotional meaning and impact.Creating a menacing and brooding nature with the predominant use of a minor key, Beethoven composed the piece for a newly developing middle class that looked to musical expression as a common form of public and private entertainment. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is now a staple for orchestras and a fixture in popular culture.

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Richard Chenoweth, Graul Chair in Arts and Languages, discusses the innovative symphonic structure for Ludwig van Beethoven’s most famous work.

Beethoven: ‘Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Opus 67’


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