Articles & Interviews
Feb 21, 2013
1. The young Beethoven moved to Vienna from Bonn, planning to study with a great composer who lived in the Austrian capital. Who was he? Show/Hide Answer
Franz Joseph Haydn.
2. What work by Beethoven, given its premiere along with the premiere of the Seventh Symphony, overshadowed the Seventh? Show/Hide Answer
Wellington's Victory. A "battle symphony" with sound effects provided by the detonations of muskets and cannon, this explosive potboiler appealed to the audience far more than did the wild and elegant Symphony No. 7. Beethoven was not happy.
3. Who gave the nickname Emperor to Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5? Show/Hide Answer
We don't know. And the title Emperor is only used in English-speaking countries.
4. What work by Beethoven is often thought to be a practice run for his Ninth Symphony? Show/Hide Answer
The Choral Fantasy.
5. How do we know which birds Beethoven intended to impersonate (via various instruments) in the "Scene by the Brook" in his Pastoral Symphony? Show/Hide Answer
Beethoven tells us, by marking the score "nightingale" (flute), "quail" (oboe), and "cuckoo" (clarinet).
6. Name three films in which Beethoven is protagonist. Show/Hide Answer
Beethoven (Le grand Amour de Beethoven, 1936), Immortal Beloved (1994), and Copying Beethoven (2006).
7. What was one of the things about Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, his Third, that made it so radical for its time? Show/Hide Answer
Clocking in at almost an hour, the Eroica is more than twice as long as most other symphonies that preceded it, or that were its contemporaries. It also made huge demands on its first listeners and performers, who were unaccustomed to works of such length and complexity. (Find out more about this amazing music at keepingscore.org)
8. Beethoven's even-numbered symphonies are often classified as those that are more genial and reflective, while the odd-numbered symphonies reveal the composer's wild, Dionysian side. Using this classification scheme, how did Robert Schumann describe Beethoven's Fourth Symphony? Show/Hide Answer
Schumann called the Fourth "a slender Grecian maiden between two Nordic giants," standing as it does between the Eroica and the epic Fifth.
9. What was the original title of Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio? Show/Hide Answer
Leonore, after the main character, who disguises herself as the boy Fidelio in order to gain access to the prison where her husband, Florestan, is being held prisoner by the tyrant Pizzaro. (Hence the three overtures Beethoven wrote for the opera in its earlier form are called Leonore 1, 2, and 3. The revised opera Fidelio is introduced by the Fidelio Overture.)
10. What crude listening device did Beethoven use in an attempt to compensate for his deafness? Show/Hide Answer
The ear trumpet, which resembled a miniature gramophone horn.
Use the calendar advanced search to find upcoming San Francisco Symphony performances of works by Beethoven.