The Classical Period: “Storm Movement” from Beethoven’s 6th Symphony | Music Arts Toolkit
Robert Franz, associate conductor of the Louisville Orchestra, explains the terms crescendo and decrescendo. Then, the Louisville Youth Orchestra performs the “Storm Movement” from Ludwig Van Beethoven’s 6th Symphony.
Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) is one of the most famous and influential composers of all time. His work bridged the Classical and Romantic periods. His works are considered the apex of Classical forms such as the symphony, but the emotional nature of his work and his “all or nothing” approach to his artistry align him with the beginnings of Romanticism.
Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, into a musical family. Both his grandfather and father were court musicians, and young Ludwig gave his first concert when he was seven. He published his first composition in 1782.
However, the young artist faced family difficulties. Beethoven’s mother died when he was a teenager, and his father was often abusive, especially after the mother’s death.
Beethoven wrote many types of works, including concertos, sonatas, string quartets, choral works, and symphonies. His nine symphonies are considered some of the very symphonies ever written. His 6th Symphony broke with traditional ground in that it was a “program work,” that is, it is a symphony about something, in this case a day in the countryside. It is known as the “Pastoral Symphony.”
Beethoven began to lose his hearing in the late 1790s. By 1824, when his 9th and last symphony premiered, he was completely deaf. He could not hear the thunderous applause, and a friend had to make him turn around and face the audience to see their enthusiastic reaction. When Beethoven died in 1827, more than 20,000 people came to his funeral.
1. Use the segment as part of a study of the Classical and/or Romantic periods and their music.
2. Use the video in conjunction with Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto or other works by Beethoven.
3. Have students listen to the piece with their eyes closed to help them better visualize the “storm” the piece conveys.
4. Use the video in conjunction with a science unit on weather. What is a storm? What causes storms? How is thunder produced? Have students look for other pieces of music that reflect natural phenomena.
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