Beethoven had mixed feelings about the Pastoral Symphony – SlippediscSlippedisc

norman lebrecht

January 20, 2023

In today’s Spectator, I write about my childhood aversion to the Pastoral Symphony – only to discover much later that Beethoven was also ambivalent about the work.

‘Considered in the totality of Beethoven’s output, the Pastoral is a cuckoo in his catalogue. Had it never been written, our view of him would not change. It was composed alongside the Fifth Symphony and Fourth Piano Concerto and premièred together in an overlong concert in December 1808. Both the other works reflect nervous times, Napoleon hammering at the gates of Vienna.

‘The Sixth, however, is sheer escapism, a springtime day evoked in deep midwinter and telling a story, which Beethoven never normally does…’

Read on here.

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