A Deeper Look into Beethoven’s Symphony No.9, Movement IV

by yanru2013

Beethoven’s fourth movement for the symphony No. 9 is unconventional in that it does not follow any of the music forms that we had studied previously. It is not developed through an exposition-development-recapitulation structure for Sonata form, a theme-variations form for variation form, nor does it use an ABACADA structure for Rondo form. Despite its innovative form, it is still well organized and carefully planned. The whole movement is composed to move the spirit and trend toward a higher point, the pursuit of higher being and universal brotherhood.

In addition, the other symphonies we studied before are purely instrumental, but Beethoven added human voice into his Symphony No.9, Movement 4. The solo singers who sing the recitative part and the chorus singing the joy theme gave an unprecedented experience to the audience. Beethoven attained a new height of texture richness in symphony through the addition of human voice in this movement.

Because this movement well incorporated the poem—the Ode to Joy, and because the music takes in joy theme and expresses it in an aesthetically appealing manner, this movement is also very programmatic in that it has music in support of the poem. The poem directed the melody, texture, rhythm and structure of the movement. The poem also directly influenced the composition of the melody in support of the pure joy and universal brotherhood. The melody is simple but forceful and effective. Through the change of texture in the movement, Beethoven conveys the theme of the poem by emphasizing the important points with diverse textures. I personally adore Beethoven’s structural innovation.

Going through all the forms in the early classical period, his unexpected change of the form makes the movement exciting and it also makes the audience curious to hear more and more of the development of the movement.

Here’s the link to the complete music piece: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChygZLpJDNE