The Origins of the Opening Motif in Beethoven's Fifth Symphony

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The famous opening motif of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony has generated much debate about its possible meaning and origin. His sketches throw some light on this. The chronology of the two earliest groups of sketches has hitherto been uncertain, but it is clear that those in the volume Autograph 19e predate those in the sketchbook Landsberg 6, even though most of the latter predates the relevant pages in Autograph 19e. The sketches also reveal that the motif appears to have originated in an abandoned piano fantasia, before being adopted at the head of the symphony. This in turn implies that the motif has no hidden meaning. The notes themselves are the meaning, and any verbal interpretation of them is merely metaphorical.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalAd Parnassum
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


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