Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, First Movement (compare performances)

In the Spirit of the Gracious and Compassionate
Creator of the Heavens and the Earth

Lester A. Knibbs aka Doctor Hakeem

(You might want to read “Symphonic Music 001” first.)

This is an exercise in attentive listening to symphonic music. Take 25 or 30 minutes out of your busy day and listen to the following performances of the first movement of Beethoven’s fifth symphony. The longest performance is about seven minutes and 36 seconds long. You only need to listen to the first two examples to do this exercise. The third example is essentially identical to the second.

First Example:

Just listen to the first six minutes and 28 seconds (6:28) — which is the first movement.

Second Example:

There are a number of differences between the performance in the first example and the performance in the second example. One of them is big. What is it?

Third Example:

Here is another performance that is essentially identical to the second example.

If you need a hint — and only if you need a hint — there is a hint at the end of this essay.

The purpose of this essay is to encourage you to listen to this excellent example of symphonic music and to assess your listening skills. Of course, if you do not listen attentively, you will not notice what I am asking you to notice.

The visuals are nice and less misleading than watching an orchestra perform (or looking at fraudulent images of a “white” Beethoven). Normally, orchestral performances are presented in such a way that they reinforce the idea of “Western Civilization” — in other words, white supremacy. Other than that, it is fun to watch an orchestra perform.

This is a short example of symphonic music — six-and-a-half to seven-and-a-half minutes long. Eventually, you will need an attention span long enough (and strong enough) to listen attentively to a symphonic movement 20 or 30 minutes long, or to an entire symphony of four or more movements lasting over an hour — and hear the connections between the sections and the development of various musical ideas.

This is part of an evolutionary process — “Only the strong survive.” “Man means mind.” This develops your mind. “No pain no gain”, as the body-builders say. This is exercise and weight-lifting for your mind.

The hint:

The difference comes at about 1:43 in the first example, 1:31 in the second example, and 1:35 in the third example. (Remember, examples 2 and 3 are similar, and different from example 1.)

 

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2 Responses to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, First Movement (compare performances)

  1. Clive Dawkins says:

    The 1st piece takes clear time to build. Clear thought and time to every move or change is indicated by tempo and pauses. Reminds me of the early Warner Brothers/ Looney Tunes Bugs Bunny cartoons that always used classical music as a backdrop to support the script, especially if they chose to use no dialog.

    The 2nd hits me as being rushed, almost more angry. The use of the orchestra is full and rich in completeness, very few moments to take a breath. It is 70% building and fighting and declaration. 30% calm and enjoying the fruits of one’s labor but not for long. The start of the 2nd and 3rd are also more grand in terms of announcing the supporting cast, crew, or army.

    The 3rd example still implies a large supporting cast and/or army, but it is less rushed to the crescendo than the 2nd. Waves of troops as opposed to one attack.

    • Administrator says:

      Thank you, Clive, for your comments and, especially, for you taking the time and effort to listen to these recordings.

      Your comments are excellent and indicate not only that you actually paid attention but also that — unlike 90% of Americans — you can hear. Your use of the words “rushed”, “angry”, “building”, “fighting”, “declaration”, and so forth are evidence that you are actually hearing the music. I like your “30% calm” (is it really that much?) and, as you say, “but not for long”. All excellent.

      BUT — You seem to have missed the one crucial observation I’m hoping you (and others) will make. It is actually very simple. Very simple. (That’s a hint.) Perhaps you noticed it and don’t think it’s important.

      So far, you are the only one to respond. I hope you are the first of, at least, several. Is it audacious of me to say so? — THIS IS IMPORTANT. (For people who want to be free. Most of our people want comfortable slavery. “Freedom is not free.”)

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