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Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21

Beethoven’s First Symphony did not appear until 1800. The success of the two classical masters, Haydn and Mozart, influenced this piece and it can be seen because his First Symphony bore many of the hallmarks of classical style he had studied with both Haydn and Mozart. Furthermore, it is surprising that with his debut into the symphonic genre, he was hailed as their successor and a voice of the future. That newness emerged in the very first measures of Opus 21.  It was not a full-fledged echo of poise and obedience to classical values. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna (there were no concert halls at that time), which the composer had rented for a concert to promote his own music.  The Allegemeine Musikalische Zeitung reported  “this was the most interesting concert in a very long time.” Ironically, just as he was entering a successful phase in his compositions, he was given the bad news that his hearing problem was incurable. By 1802, in the Heiligenstadt Testament he was even considering suicide. His commitment to the art of music and his place therein saved him from himself.

– Marianne Williams Tobias
– Complied by Helen Hazard