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Beethoven Beethoven's Ninth Symphony


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I. First Movement

Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso (Fast, but not too fast, and somewhat majestic)

  1. Exposition
    1. Primary area
    2. Secondary area
    3. Closing area
  2. Development
  3. Recapitulation
    1. Primary area
    2. Transition
    3. Secondary area
    4. Closing area
  4. Coda

Overview

There is no precedent for the gigantically conceived first movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. In an early description of this movement, Beethoven used the word "despair", though the finished work evokes a blend of despair, chaos, and ultimately - defiance. The hushed opening creates an image of music emerging from the void; indeed the opening theme has been called "the Void Music".

In the second section of the first movement, Beethoven develops the Defiance theme, reworking the theme in different pitches and applying a powerful fugue. Tying this development together is a systematic exploration of the Defiance theme as Beethoven fragments the theme, first the head, then the middle, and finally the tail. In the recapitulation, Beethoven restores the original themes of the Exposition section in their orignal order, but with struggles within these themes being played just below the surface.

The first movement's coda is unusual for it's extended length and for the fact that it does not attempt to resolve the disintegration of the themes carried over from the recapitulation. In fact, the coda evokes a mood of bleakness which parallels the Defiance theme.