“All tumult, all yearning and storming of the heart, become here the blissful insolence of joy, which carries us away with bacchanalian power through the roomy space of nature, through all the streams and seas of life, shouting in glad self- consciousness as we sound throughout the universe the daring strains of this human sphere-dance. The Symphony is the Apotheosis of the Dance itself...”
- Richard Wagner
In December 1813, at a fund- raising concert for soldiers wounded as they fought to cut-o Napolean’s line of retreat, Beethoven conducted the premiere of this, his seventh symphony. Although the recent Battle of Hanau had not been a success for the Austro-Bavarian Corps — and had resulted in over 9000 casualties — Vienna’s general outlook was more positive than at any other point in recent history, which had seen a long and brutal series of invasions. Performed alongside his patriotic orchestral work Wellington’s Victory, the energetic assurance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 tapped into this spirit of optimism and was an instant hit. The second movement in particular provoked such an enthusiastic response that it required a repeat performance.
The Symphony opens with a long, slow introduction – long enough to be regarded by some commentators as a separate movement. A single repeated note launches the subsequent Vivace, its animated rhythmic motifs giving rise to its oft-remarked on dance-like character.
Program notes: Rhiannon Cook