Posted by: Frederick Cornwell Sanders | 2013/12/08

“December 8, 1813” by Rick Sanders

Portrait of Beethoven in 1815, two years after...

Portrait of Beethoven in 1815, two years after the premiere of his 7th Symphony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is 1813. On this date is the premiere of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. Wikipedia adds:

The Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, is a symphony in four movements composed by Ludwig van Beethoven between 1811 and 1812, while improving his health in the Bohemian spa town of Teplice. The work is dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries (de).

At its première, Beethoven was noted as remarking that it was one of his best works.The second movement, Allegretto, was the most popular movement and had to be encored. The instant popularity of the Allegretto resulted in its frequent performance separate from the complete symphony.

The work was premiered with Beethoven himself conducting in Vienna on 8 December 1813 at a charity concert for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Hanau; the program also included the patriotic work Wellington’s Victory. The orchestra was led by Beethoven’s friend, Ignaz Schuppanzigh, and included some of the finest musicians of the day: violinist Louis Spohr, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Antonio Salieri, bassoonist Anton Romberg, and the Italian double bass virtuoso, Domenico Dragonetti, whom Beethoven himself described as playing “with great fire and expressive power”. It is also said that the Italian guitar virtuoso Mauro Giuliani played cello at the premiere. The piece was very well received, and the second movement, the Allegretto, had to be encored immediately. Spohr made particular mention of Beethoven’s antics on the rostrum (“as a sforzando occurred, he tore his arms with a great vehemence asunder … at the entrance of a forte he jumped in the air”), and the concert was repeated due to its immense success.

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