The Pastoral Sinfonie, or Symphony as we spell it

It was the first piece of Western classical music that I wanted to listen too…. and all because of the flyer in an old wax record I once owned…. I remember buying the cassette back in the early 1990s  – it was Ricardo Muti conducting the Philadelphia Symphonic Orchestra, if I remember correctly. This was later lost and in many years later, that I found a replacement but this time by an English chamber orchestra, whose name unfortunately escapes me at this point in time…. This I still I have, though I have been constrained to stop listening to cassettes for CDs. However, that is enough of me and I will get to the point, introducing to you one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s most famous works…. or given the status of the composer, one among his many famous works.

It is Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, also known as the Pastoral Symphony (Pastoral-Sinfonie in German….. as I have rendered above. It is not a spelling mistake, and as the Ustaad would say, So there!!).

Why I am suddenly springing this onto you is because I lived the first movement when I undertook a journey back home last week…. how so? Read this: (A friendly piece of advice for all those in a hurry or otherwise short of time, or most of you – Wait for the second part. A partial explanation is also offered here, but you need to connect the dots when you read about the first movement here. The answer is in the first movement, though the elaboration is in the other post whose link is provided above…. but in the second part which I have yet to write).

One of Beethoven’s few works containing programmatic content, the symphony was completed in 1808 and first performed in December of the same year.

With five movements, it broke from the standard form of the Classical era, in which the symphony usually had four movements. The five movements of Beethoven’s symphony are:

Erwachen heiterer Empfindungen bei der Ankunft auf dem Lande : Allegro ma non troppo

Szene am Bach : Andante molto mosso

Lustiges Zusammensein der Landleute : Allegro

Gewitter, Sturm : Allegro

Hirtengesang. Frohe und dankbare Gefühle nach dem Sturm : Allegretto

Before you get stumped by the mix of German and Italian above, I will solve your predicament by giving you the English equivalents of the Germanic titles of the five moments. But before that I must tell you that a performance of the work lasts about 40 minutes and the last three movements are performed together without pause.

To be continued….


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