SYMPHONY NO. 1 in C MINOR, OP. 68
Recording: Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Leonard Bernstein; Gerhart
Hetzel, violin solo (2nd Movement). Live performance from 1983
[DG D-125 224]
The extremely long
gestation of the First Symphony has almost legendary status.
While some speculation is probably romanticized hyperbole, it is
certainly true that Brahms approached the composition of this hallowed
genre with extreme respect (as he had similarly done with the string
quartet). Already proclaimed by Schumann as the heir to Beethoven
in the 1850s, Brahms knew that his first symphonic effort would be
subject to intense scrutiny and high expectations. Thus, he went
through a long process of preparation that included such works as the
First Piano Concerto, the two serenades, the German Requiem, the short
choral works from the Op. 50s, and the Haydn Variations, all of which
sharpened his skills in orchestration. The piano concerto even
started its life as a symphony, and the First Serenade was originally
called “Symphony-Serenade.” When, after more than twenty years as
an active composer, Brahms published the First Symphony, it was
instantly hailed as a supreme masterpiece. The key of C minor
with an ending in C major drew immediate comparison to Beethoven’s
Fifth. The complexity of the first movement, with its dense web
of motives and lack of singable melodies, was balanced by its exciting
climax and passionate energy. Brahms also followed Beethoven in
shifting the weight toward the finale, a huge movement with a large
double introduction. The second part of the introduction, with
its evocative horn and flute parts, uses a familiar “alphorn” or
“London chimes” melody that Brahms had used as a greeting for Clara
Schumann. When the main part of the movement arrives, it is with
what might be recognized as the composer’s most inspired theme, the
“big tune” that immediately drew comparison to the “joy” theme of
Beethoven’s Ninth (whether his comment that “any ass can hear that” was
meant as an acknowledgement of the similarity or as an observation
about those who made the comparison is still debated). The ending
has genuine and well-planned moments of triumph. The movement’s
form, with a conflated development and recapitulation, has long been a
favorite for analysis. The middle movements also have notable
features, such as the nebulous phrase structure of the slow movement,
along with the metrical distortions of the middle section and the
violin solo at the end. The solo was an atypical romantic
indulgence for the mature Brahms. The third movement has
structural resemblance to a scherzo and trio, but this is no
scherzo. The moderately-paced “scherzo substitute” would set the
precedent for the Second and Third symphonies as well. One
innovative aspect of the overall design is the symmetrical progression
by thirds (major thirds) between the movements: C, E, A-flat, C, an
unusual layout. The First Symphony is more than a legend and more
than one Big Tune. It is, with respect to Mahler’s “Titan,” the
greatest First Symphony ever written, from the pounding timpani of the
first movement’s introduction to the blazing C-major chords at the
end. The standard orchestra with four horns and two
trumpets adds contrabassoon and, in the last movement, three trombones.
IMSLP (First Edition from Brahms-Institut Lübeck)
IMSLP (from Breitkopf &
Härtel Sämtliche Werke):
1st Movement: Un
poco sostenuto - Allegro (Sonata-Allegro form with introduction).
C MINOR, 6/8 time, with one 9/8 bar.
INTRODUCTION - Un poco sostenuto
0:00 [m. 1]--The opening is
incredibly powerful and assertive. Attention is drawn to the
pulsating timpani, who steadily play on the home keynote, C.
Against this, the violins and cellos begin with one of the symphony’s
main ideas, three ascending notes, each a half-step apart. The
winds and violas play descending chords against this. The string
basses and contrabassoon join with the timpani beats. An
important rhythm, three shorter notes, follows in the ascent. The
violin line is highly syncopated.
0:10 [m. 3]--The syncopation in
the violins continues. The winds begin to play new figures
harmonized in thirds. They are based on a long note followed by
three ascending shorter ones. The violins and cellos begin to
work with the rhythm of three shorter notes, often in widely leaping
lines. The music remains strong and assertive, and the timpani
continue to beat loudly. This all approaches a half-cadence with
a punctuating trill. It is prepared by a single drawn-out 9/8 bar
inserted into the context of 6/8.
0:37 [m. 9]--After the
half-cadence, the music cuts off sharply and moves directly to a series
of upbeat figures that begin to sound like they start on strong beats
and thus obscure the sense of pulse. These figures are groups of
three repeated notes in the strings, all plucked, and passed between
instrument groups. The winds support the groups with longer
syncopated notes that match the changes. There are two downward
leaps, the second a third lower, between the groups. These
figures merge into “sighing” figures with bowed strings. These
are also highly syncopated and include chromatic notes. They also
reach a half-cadence.
0:56 [m. 13]--The plucked
groups of repeated notes begin again, this time in F minor and still
supported by winds. The following “sighing” figures are also
analogous to the passage just completed, but they are extended by two
more bars and begin to build up. Eventually, they leap an octave
at the top of the buildup. There is then a scale descent in
violins, bassoons, and flutes that again recedes. The scale still
suggests F minor, but the following music is back in C minor.
1:33 [m. 21]--The strings begin
an ominous anticipation of the widely-spaced Theme 1, which will appear
in full in the exposition. The arpeggios become gradually faster
and are the impetus for another strong buildup, both in volume and
pitch. Under the strings, the timpani begin again to pulse, and
there is light wind support, but that support does include trumpets
along with horns, clarinets, and flutes. Under the buildup and
the increased speed of the arpeggios, the timpani beats are also played
twice as quickly.
1:49 [m. 25]--The buildup
flowers into an even more powerful statement of the opening music,
which now begins on the “dominant” note G instead of C. Under
this statement, the timpani no longer pulsate, but rumble in an
extended roll. The pulsation remains in the string basses and
contrabassoon. This climax continues as had the opening at 0:10
[m. 3], including the wind figures in thirds, but it is sharply cut off
before the string elaboration of the short-note rhythm. The early
cutoff allows the same half-cadence as before, since the passage began
at a higher level than at the opening.
2:07 [m. 29]--The sharp cutoff
isolates an oboe, which plays a melancholy and meandering melody that
includes wide leaps, including a leap up an octave to a descending
scale. The oboe line is supported by horns and bassoons, later
clarinets, and the quiet level reflects that of the plucked repeated
notes following the previous cutoff. The “meandering melody”
dovetails briefly into a flute line before being passed back to the
2:25 [m. 33]--The oboe line
dovetails into an entry of the cellos, who take over the “meandering
melody,” including the leap up the octave to the descending
scale. The winds drop out, the clarinets exiting last. The
upper strings provide a quiet background to the cello line. At
the end, a quiet and highly anticipatory half-cadence is approached by
an isolated plucked note in the cellos following their completion of
the “meandering melody” and a gentle descent from a long-held first
violin note. One more plucked cello note on the “dominant” pitch
of G creates a great sense of anticipation for the arrival of the
EXPOSITION - Allegro
2:47 [m. 38]--The exposition
begins with a powerful sort of “motto” rather than directly with Theme
1. A low unison C punched out by timpani, cellos, horns, and
winds is followed by music that is highly similar to the opening of the
introduction. Each wind group except bassoons divides so that the
top instrument moves up and the bottom one moves down. Both
bassoons move down, along with a pair of unison horns. The upper
line is the rising three-note half-step idea. It is immediately
followed by a quick turning figure that is clearly derived from the
faster “short-note” rhythm from the introduction, expanded to include
the following downbeat. At this point, the strings enter, echoing
the turning “short-note” rhythm with punctuating brass and a full
2:53 [m. 42]--Theme 1.
The first violins present the theme, which begins with a rising
arpeggio. It soars above pulsating second violins and
violas. Underneath it, the cellos and bassoons play the “motto,”
with the three rising half-steps and the faster turning figure.
The soaring arpeggio is followed by a more detached descent. The
theme begins again a fifth higher, still with the “motto” in the low
instruments, but now with wind support. Instead of moving to the
descent, the theme is slightly extended with violin syncopations and a
strong half-cadence. The low instruments play more “turning
figures” under this extension (C minor).
3:04 [m. 52]--The strings play
two downward leaps beginning on upbeats, the second a third
lower. These are in unison. They echo the plucked string
figures from the introduction at 0:37 [m. 9]. Like those, these
are followed by “sighing” gestures with chromatic notes. The
winds join and the strings harmonize on the “sighing” gestures.
The low strings play more downward leaps under them. They are cut
off by decisive and detached notes with timpani beats.
3:12 [m. 58]--More downward
leaps and “sighing” gestures echo the F-minor harmony and structure of
0:56 [m. 13] from the introduction. The “sighing” gestures are
extended, as they are there. They are first played by the low
strings, then taken over by the violins and horns. The violins
continue to play the downward leaps over the sighing gestures from the
low strings, and the winds with low strings play the downward leaps
when the violins take over. Already loud, the music builds to a
feverish full cadence in C minor that is emphatically emphasized with
the “short-note” turning figure in the violins along with brass chords.
3:28 [m. 70]--The winds,
beginning with clarinets and bassoons, start another tentative
statement of Theme 1 that blossoms into a full statement, including the
detached descent. The violins, violas, and timpani play pulsating
repetitions that begin to sound like the da-da-da-DUM “fate” rhythm
from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The low strings play an
inversion of the “motto,” with the half-steps and turn figures, but
their direction is reversed so that the half-steps move down and the
turning figures move up.
3:38 [m. 79]--The strings,
including low strings, take over and extend the Theme 1 material.
The winds play extended versions of the inverted “motto.” The
brass and timpani now greatly emphasize the “fate” rhythm. Heavy
syncopation, drum rolls, and the forceful detached descent all move to
another full cadence.
3:52 [m. 90]--Transition.
The full orchestra follows the cadence with a series of strong
syncopations, mostly detached from each other and with the winds and
strings staggered. They culminate in a powerful detached descent
in long-short rhythm. This descending arpeggio greatly diminishes
in volume. The long-short rhythm continues in a series of
questioning gestures from strings and winds. A gentle
arching line follows, and the music begins to move toward the related
major key of E-flat.
4:13 [m. 105]--The music is now
even quieter. The strings put down their bows and begin to pluck
on the long-short rhythm, which is still very detached. The winds
play isolated and quiet chords. The strings bow again when the
winds introduce the “gentle arching line” again. This is extended
and emerges into soft and isolated exchanges between plucked higher
strings and short wind chords. The cellos continue to pulsate.
4:30 [m. 117]--E-flat major has
now arrived. The first violins and cellos begin a murmuring line,
over which a solo horn plays a distinctive falling call. The call
is then taken by the woodwinds for a second statement.
4:36 [m. 121]--After a brief
break, the murmuring line continues in the second violins and
violas. The first oboe and horn then lead the other winds, who
harmonize as they play the three-note half-step figure four times in
rising succession. Under these statements, the cellos play a
major-key version of Theme 1’s opening arpeggios. This is passed
to the violins on the third statement, and the low strings move to one
inverted (descending) and one original (ascending) three-note half-step
figure. The fourth oboe statement is short, and it settles down
with the falling strings to a half-cadence anticipating Theme 2.
4:51 [m. 130]--Theme 2.
It is almost entirely derived from the downward leaps from 3:04 [m. 52]
and earlier in the introduction with the plucked repeated notes.
It has now been transformed into a wistful, gentle, albeit highly
chromatic melody presented by first oboe. Under the melody, the
violas have started to pulse on repeated notes, and the clarinets,
bassoons, and cellos provide additional support (E-flat major).
5:01 [m. 139]--After two
phrases, the clarinets begin to echo the oboe line, which they do
twice. The horns also join at this point, playing upward
neighbor-tone gestures while harmonized in thirds. The oboes then
appear to abandon the theme, answering a clarinet imitation with the
opening gesture and then a slower, partly syncopated descent that seems
to trail off.
5:12 [m. 146]--The violins take
over from the oboes and clarinets. They appear to turn the oboe
descent around, but in reality they are playing the three-note
half-step figure. This is immediately answered by a lovely
cadence gesture from a clarinet, which is nothing more than the “tail”
of the Theme 2 phrases. The clarinet is answered by a horn, and
they pass the gesture back and forth twice. Finally, the flute
and oboe play the cadence gesture together, and they are answered and
overlapped ominously by the clarinet and bassoon. These entries
add a descending octave. Last, the low horns answer the gesture,
overlapping clarinet and bassoon. They reach a very low octave,
and the bass harmony below shifts to E-flat minor.
5:33 [m. 157]--Closing
Theme. Two isolated three-note minor-key descents in the violas
begin, punctuated by plucked chords from other strings. Then the
rest of the strings take the bows and pass the three-note descents down
from violins to violas to cellos, overlapping their entries and
creating a pileup effect. This builds tremendously as the winds
creep back in (E-flat minor).
5:37 [m. 161]--The descent is
developed into a powerful melody led by the violins and characterized
by its increasingly wide leaps and plunging arpeggios. The low
strings and bassoons have a prominent, somewhat slower counterpoint to
the violins that usually moves in the opposite direction. Other
winds add support to the melody’s off-beat accents and
syncopation. The “fate” rhythm is prevalent.
5:46 [m. 169]--The parts are
reversed. The low strings and bassoons now play the faster melody
with wide leaps. The violins in octaves, with support from most
woodwinds, play the slower counterpoint, which now takes center
stage. Approaching the climax, the faster melody creeps up to the
second violins, who break from their lower octaves with the first
5:56 [m. 177]--In an enormous
climax, the first violins begin an extremely syncopated cadence
phrase. The low strings first play “inverted” three-note ascents,
then “original” descents. The horns play blasting calls with
strong falling octaves against this. There are five of these, the
last three overlapping. After a strong cadence in E-flat minor,
the winds and strings twice alternate a hammering third beginning on an
upbeat. The strings then reiterate this third three times before
descending and pivoting back to the exposition repeat.
6:10 [m. 189, first ending, replacing
m. 38]--The pivot back to C minor is accomplished by a rather
jarring half-step descent following the hammered thirds. The
first ending has two bars (mm. 189a and 190a, corresponding to mm.
38-39), but the only difference is that all strings play on the initial
thumping unison C, coming as they do from their descent. From
that point, the opening “motto” continues as at 2:47. The repeat
sign goes back to m. 40.
6:15 [m. 42]--Theme 1, with
rising arpeggios over the “motto,” as at 2:53.
6:26 [m. 52]--Downward leaps on
upbeats and “sighing” gestures, as at 3:04.
6:33 [m. 58]--Downward leaps
and “sighing” gestures in F minor, then buildup and cadence, as at 3:12.
6:48 [m. 70]--Tentative wind
statement of Theme 1 over “fate” rhythm and inversion of “motto,” as at
6:58 [m. 79]--Extension of
Theme 1 material with inverted “motto,” “fate” rhythm, and cadence, as
7:11 [m. 90]--Transition with
syncopation, huge descent, long-short rhythm, and move to E-flat, as at
7:31 [m. 105]--Plucked
long-short rhythm and isolated string/wind exchanges, as at 4:13.
7:48 [m. 117]--Murmuring string
line with falling horn and woodwind calls, as at 4:30.
7:54 [m. 121]--Half-step
motives from oboe/horn and major-key version of Theme 1 arpeggios, as
8:09 [m. 130]--Theme 2.
Downward leaps presented by oboe with pulsating violas, as at 4:51.
8:20 [m. 139]--Clarinet echoes,
horn gestures, and syncopated descent, as at 5:01.
8:30 [m. 146]--Violin ascent,
cadence gestures, large descent with octaves, and motion to minor, as
8:50 [m. 157]--Closing
Theme. Minor-key descents and then overlapping descents, as at
8:55 [m. 161]--Powerful melody
with wide leaps, plunging arpeggios, and slower counterpoint, as at
9:04 [m. 169]--Reversal of
parts and approach to climax, as at 5:46.
9:13 [m. 177]--Enormous climax
with syncopation, blasting horn calls, and hammering thirds, as at 5:56.
9:27 [m. 189, second ending]--The
is a whole step rather than a half-step, causing a motion
at the development to B instead of to the C of the exposition. In
B major, the strings elaborate on the opening arpeggio from Theme
1. This is supported by wind chords and is at full volume.
After eight bars, the familiar descent and half-cadence from Theme 1 is
heard, still in B.
9:39 [m. 197]--The strings are
suddenly hushed, and the violins begin to play in tremolo. The violas
pulsate. A solo bassoon plays a slower elaboration of the Theme 1
material in counterpoint with another line in the low strings.
There is a subtle shift from B major to B minor, and the higher winds
make an unobtrusive entrance to help mark another half-cadence in B
9:49 [m. 205]--The violins
begin the tremolo motion
again. The slow elaboration on Theme 1 is again heard, but it is
now flute and oboe, rather than bassoon, who play in counterpoint with
the low strings. The harmony makes an almost imperceptible
digression from the previous passage, and the material is
extended. The harmony moves away from B, first seemingly back
home to C minor, which is strongly implied by the low-string
arpeggios. At that point, the timpanist enters with “fate”
rhythms and rolls. The music becomes quieter, then makes another
harmonic digression down, to B-flat minor.
10:17 [m. 225]--The closing
theme makes an unmistakable entry in B-flat minor. It builds
rapidly, as this theme always does. The isolated three-note
descents and their extensions are heard as in the exposition. The
theme seems to continue, but on the third upward leap, it suddenly
pauses. There follows a new, warm, and melodious phrase from the
strings in G-flat major (which is not too far distant from B-flat
minor). This phrase seems to expand on the non-melodic detached
syncopations from the beginning of the transition at 3:52 and 7:11 [m.
90]. Against this, the horns, then other winds, play the “fate”
10:31 [m. 237]--The closing
theme again begins in B-flat minor without its opening gestures, and
the new melodious G-flat phrase follows, now in the winds. The
strings almost rudely cut the winds off, and through a simple
manipulation move the phrase down to A major. The “fate” rhythms
are still heard, now from trumpets as well as horns. The winds
echo the end of the A-major melody, and then the strings take over for
yet another statement of the phrase, now in C major. “Fate”
rhythms continue in the horns.
10:49 [m. 253]--The winds pass
the opening three chords of the “melodious phrase” to the strings
twice. The winds then seem to begin another alternation, but they
isolate the “sighing” figures of the phrase, stating them four times,
with the last two a step higher, moving away from C. The strings
join them in harmony on the last two, and the music has again arrived
at B-flat minor. The “fate” rhythm is loudly blasted by the horns
under these last two “sigh” figures.
11:00 [m. 261]--The return to
B-flat minor has been an illusion. The closing theme gestures
begin again in the strings, at a powerful level, but the contour of
the theme immediately places the music back in C minor. The horns
timpani powerfully state the “fate” rhythm, and the rising half-step
motive is heard in the low strings. The winds then echo the
strings with the top voice a third lower. The strings make
another statement a third higher than the first one, and the winds
again echo it a third below. The second low string statement of
the rising half-steps remains anchored, moving to the “dominant”
11:09 [m. 269]--The music
suddenly quiets down, and the violins make a final effort at the
closing theme at a lower level. Pulsating violas and continuing
“fate” rhythms are heard as the music continues to diminish. The
rising half-step motive, so pervasive in the movement, is heard two
more times in the low strings, still remaining anchored to the strong
motion into the “dominant” note of C minor (G).
11:15 [m. 273]--A long bass
pedal on the dominant note G begins. The cellos pass the “fate”
rhythm to the timpani and back, both remaining anchored to the
note. The half-step motive now comes to the forefront. The
violins state it, then invert it, moving gradually down. They do
this a second time, still moving downward. The inversion follows
the second statement as it had the first, but it is stretched out, with
a longer second note. All of these statements are syncopated over
bar lines, and winds and violas have downward moving lines in thirds
against all of them.
11:27 [m. 282]--The last
“stretched out” inversion of the half-step motive turns around on its
final note and begins another series of downward-moving statements that
follows the same pattern as before: statement, inversion, second
statement, stretched-out second inversion. The winds still have
their generally downward-moving thirds, but the violas now join the
first violins, the second violins having dropped out. The cellos
and timpani continue to pass the “fate” rhythm, which is still on the
note G. After the last inverted statement, the strings pause,
then descend with syncopated notes, stopping just short of the “goal”
note, C. The “fate” rhythm stops, and the music, now very quiet,
becomes nearly motionless.
11:44 [m. 294]--Re-transition.
of unusual length. The preparatory “dominant” has already
been in the bass “fate rhythm” for a while. Now, at the moment of
greatest quiet and stillness, begins a slow and massive buildup.
Beginning with F-sharp leading into the dominant note G, the three-note
rising half-steps are heard in the bass with the first note held over
the bar line. They are followed by a near-repetition that leaps
an octave from the second note. Above this, the violins and
violas, with all but first violins in tremolo,
the bass with a variant of the figure that replaces the
second half-step with a rising third. The two bass patterns
repeat a half-step higher. The “fate rhythm” in horns and timpani
is heard, and then the three-note descent with turn from the closing
theme follows in the clarinets, harmonized in thirds.
11:55 [m. 301]--As the second
bass pattern with the leaping octave concludes, the “fate” rhythm is
again heard from the horns (now without timpani). The pattern of
alternation between this and the three-note descent with turn
continues. The descent and turn works steadily upward,
alternating between oboes and clarinets. The bass pattern now
works upward steadily by half-step, but the three-note rising figure is
abandoned after the preceding second statement, and only the figure
with the rising octave continues the ascent. The higher strings
with tremolo continue in
their pattern, but begin to rise more steadily. Three
alternations between “fate” (in horns) and “descent and turn” (for a
total of four, two each in clarinets and oboes, all harmonized in
thirds) are heard as the bass rises. The volume also steadily and
12:12 [m. 313]--The bass
pattern with the rising octave settles on C-sharp moving into D, where
it is heard a total of four times. At this point, the trumpets
join the horns on the “fate” rhythm, and the “descent and turn” with
which it alternates is now played by flutes and oboes in thirds, the
clarinets joining the bassoons with harmony supporting the bass.
When the fourth bass statement on C-sharp and D is reached, after three
more alternations, the tension is extreme. The “fate” rhythm and
the “descent and turn” join together for two statements, and the bass
moves down by thirds from D, forming a chord on G and re-establishing
the “dominant.” The first violins also break away from their
pattern with wider leaps over the tremolo.
12:22 [m. 321]--In a massive
upbeat, the timpani join the horns and trumpets on the “fate” rhythm,
and they continue to pound it during the ensuing climax, which is the
high point of the entire movement. The thundering “fate” rhythm
again stays anchored to the “dominant” note, G. Above this, the
violins begin to play music that incorporates the “quick turns” from
the motto. All winds zigzag downward on the slower “descent and
turn,” all of them still harmonized in thirds. The mood is
feverish and extremely intense.
12:32 [m. 328]--The winds now
blast out two statements of the harmonized three-note half-step
figure. Under this, the strings collapse into rushing scales out
of the “quick turn” rhythm. The winds retain the characteristic
syncopation. They stall after the second statement on the
“dominant” chord, which is blasted four times as the timpanist breaks
into feverish rolls. It seems that Brahms could not anticipate
the return more strongly than this, but he has one more surprise in
store for this enormous re-transition.
12:41 [m. 335]--In a shocking
digression, Brahms drops the bottom out of his transition by moving the
bass down to F-sharp, where the ascent began. Here, the lower
strings play the “quick turning” rhythm again, and the violins join the
winds for two more statements of the half-step figure. Trumpets
and horns blast two more “fate” gestures. The harmony actually
moves from B minor to D minor, ascending by thirds from the previous G.
12:47 [m. 340]--The border
between re-transition and recapitulation is quite nebulous here.
At this point, another half-step figure begins another third higher, on
F minor, continuing the previous pattern. But this statement of
the figure develops into the “motto” with the “quick turning”
figures. It is also given great weight by a more slowly
descending bass that includes one of only two duple rhythms that
straighten out the 6/8 meter in the movement. The “motto” loses
its opening thumped C as well as the first wind descent under the first
note, but the F-minor harmony matches the second chord of the
exposition’s “motto,” so Brahms simply cuts the first chord, and the
recapitulation has begun. The winds and strings have a near
role-reversal from the exposition, and the end of the “motto” is
underpinned by a timpani roll.
12:53 [m. 343]--Theme 1, with
rising arpeggios over the “motto,” largely as at 2:53 and 6:15 [m. 42],
but given more richness by the winds, who join the second violins and
violas on their pulsations.
13:04 [m. 353]--Downward leaps
on upbeats and “sighing” gestures, as at 3:04 and 6:26 [m. 52], again
with richer scoring, the winds joining the leaps and the horns adding
weight to the “sighing” figures.
13:11 [m. 359]--Downward leaps
and “sighing” gestures in F minor, then buildup and cadence, as at 3:12
and 6:33 [m. 58]. Again, the winds join the leaps, and the horns
join the low strings as well as the violins on the “sighing” figures
13:25 [m. 370]--Transition.
cadence is cut off by an unexpected rising
half-step. This leads directly into the huge descending arpeggio
in detached long-short rhythm from the transition after 3:52 and 7:11
[m. 90, here analogous to m. 97]. Thus, the entire second
statement of Theme 1 with the inverted “motto” and “fate” rhythms has
been skipped, as well as transition’s opening syncopations (which
became the “melodious phrase” in the development section). The
“questioning” gestures and arching line follow as expected, but of
course the displacement allows the music to remain in C rather than
moving to E-flat.
13:37 [m. 378]--Plucked
long-short rhythm and isolated string/wind exchanges, as at 4:13 and
7:31 [m. 105]. The scoring is now somewhat lighter than in the
13:54 [m. 390]--Murmuring low
string line with falling horn and woodwind calls, as at 4:30 and 7:48
[m. 117]. It is now in C major instead of E-flat, and violas
instead of first violins “murmur” with the cellos.
14:01 [m. 394]--Half-step
motives from oboe/horn and major-key version of Theme 1 arpeggios, as
at 4:36 and 7:54 [m. 121]. First and second violins, rather than
second violins and violas, have the “murmuring” line.
14:17 [m. 403]--Theme 2, as at
4:51 and 8:09 [m. 130], now in C major. There is minimal
rescoring, including the absence of cellos and the redistribution of
their line to flute, first bassoon, horn, and isolated violin
entries. The oboe still carries the main melodic line as before.
14:27 [m. 412]--Clarinet echoes
and syncopated descent, as at 5:01 and 8:20 [m. 139]. The
clarinet/oboe alternation is preserved, but again the cellos are
absent, and new lines are heard in violins and flutes. The horns
also have new, call-like material that is different from their gestures
at this point in the exposition.
14:38 [m. 419]--Violin ascent,
cadence gestures, large descent with octaves, and motion to minor, as
at 5:12 and 8:30 [m. 146]. The clarinet and horn alternate on the
cadence gestures, as before. The final three overlapping gestures
are rescored. The first is for oboe and clarinet rather than
flute and oboe. The second is for horns alone rather than
clarinet and bassoon, and the last is for bassoons rather than
horns. The music in C here is lower than the exposition’s E-flat,
and the bassoons are more suited for the lowest pitch.
14:59 [m. 430]--Closing Theme
in C minor. The minor-key descents with plucked punctuation and
then the overlapping descents are scored largely as at 5:33 and 8:50
[m. 157], with added bassoons.
15:04 [m. 434]--Powerful melody
with wide leaps, plunging arpeggios, and slower counterpoint, as at
5:37 and 8:55 [m. 161]. Here, there is no major rescoring.
15:13 [m. 442]--The reversal of
parts and approach to the climax are analogous to 5:46 and 9:04 [m.
15:22 [m. 450]--The climax in C
minor largely follows the scoring and pattern of 5:56 and 9:13 [m.
177], including the blasting horn calls. Trumpets and timpani now
support the strings on the hammering thirds. The descent after
the hammering thirds is narrower than both the first and second endings
after the exposition, with two half-steps leading down to B-flat (the
first ending had a whole-step and a half-step, the second two
15:36 [m. 462]--The
recapitulation is given an extension with more wind/string alternation
on hammering thirds echoing the previous music. These heavily
emphasize harmonies suggesting F minor, and are supported by blasting
horn chords, trumpets, and timpani. The hammering gestures start
to turn around and work upward by half-steps. The winds do this
while the string responses still descend and become wider. The
same material is then compressed into tighter time frames with the wind
and string lines coming together into three-note groups. They
approach a powerful arrival on C, but this is immediately diverted by
another hammering third from the whole orchestra that jars everything
toward B-flat minor.
15:52 [m. 475]--The strings
begin to pluck. They reiterate the hammering thirds on B-flat and
rapidly diminish, the upper instruments slowly dropping out and leaving
only cellos. The horns softly enter on a held third. The
violins then begin to bow the pervasive three rising half-steps.
They veer toward F minor and major before making their way back to
C. The half-step motive blossoms into two genuinely melodic
phrases, the second a step higher. Under them, the cellos
continue to gently pluck the third, which shifts up a half-step, then
expands to a fourth on C under the second phrase. Flutes,
clarinets, violas, and horns provide syncopated held thirds in
support. Bassoons double the cellos, as they often have in the
16:08 [m. 486]--A long,
descending, diminishing violin line completes the melodic statement
begun by the phrases based on the half-step motion. This line
reaches a clear cadence in C minor, and is harmonized by second
violins, violas, and winds. The plucked cello line is
interesting. It continues first with the previous fourth based on
C. This fourth is then turned around so that F is on the bottom
and it is a fifth. Then comes another fourth based on G with C on
top. At the end of the phrase, this is also expanded to a fifth
based on G, which creates the “dominant” before the cadence. At
the same time, the plucking is smoothed to a straight rhythm (the
movement’s second such instance), which helps bridge to the
ensuing slower tempo.
16:27 [m. 495]--At the cadence,
there is a large-scale tempo change to “Meno Allegro” (originally
marked as the “Poco sostenuto” of the introduction). The “fate” rhythm
alternates between horns and timpani. The cellos hold a low
C. The winds (except flutes), led by the oboes, state the
three-note half-step motive and then turn it back down to C, giving it
closure. Overlapping with this turn, the strings, led by violins
(who are doubled by flutes), also begin the motive and turn it back to
the closing C. A second oboe statement, the third overall, again
overlaps with the turn. The music is hushed and slower, but still
16:48 [m. 502]--Following the
pattern, the strings (without flutes) again overlap the oboe statement
to begin a fourth one. This time, however, the statement
stalls. The second and third notes are both lengthened, and over
them, clarinets and bassoons surreptitiously begin to state the opening
arpeggios of Theme 1. The flutes and oboes join them after one
bar. Then the third note of the ascending half-step motive is
repeated. Finally, taking the place of the “closing” turn to C,
the strings play the Theme 1 arpeggios. In an incredible surprise
for a movement so persistently in minor, they are played not on C
minor, but on C major.
The entire phrase, including the “fate” rhythm in horns and timpani,
builds toward the C-major cadence.
17:10 [m. 508]--The “fate”
rhythm breaks off, and there is a general pause. The cadence was
strong, but the movement ends quietly. The winds and timpani
softly reiterate the C-major chord and the strings follow. The
winds repeat the chord again, and the strings follow below them, along
with a gentle timpani roll. A plucked C from the strings cuts off
the chord and ends the movement.
17:36--END OF MOVEMENT [511 mm.]
Andante sostenuto (Ternary form [ABA’] with coda ). E MAJOR, 3/4
0:00 [m. 1]--The first part of
the theme is played by the strings. A bassoon doubles the violin
melody. The initial statement is a gentle rise and fall with a
dotted rhythm (long-short) on the fall. Three low repeated horn
octaves bridge to the answer, which also incorporates a dotted rhythm
and is given a dark, minor-key color. The horn octaves contribute
to this “darkening” in the answer.
0:23 [m. 5]--The theme
continues with a new phrase. It begins on
an upbeat syncopation with two rising and swelling half-steps (the
first movement’s “motto”) from the first violins, harmonized by second
violins and violas (with half-steps in the opposite direction).
The bassoon has dropped out. The first bar has no bass line
provided by the low strings. They enter in the next bar with a
surging triplet rhythm as the violins play a falling dotted
rhythm. The surging bass is heard again a step lower under
another violin dotted rhythm with a wider leap. The volume has
swelled to a louder level than the opening. In the next bar, all
the instruments settle down, the violins sliding down in dotted rhythm
while the cellos play rising triplets.
0:44 [m. 9]--The arrival point
of the previous phrase merges with a new
one in which the first violins hesitantly slide up by half-steps.
They repeat this “motto” gesture three times, with new harmonies under
each. The cellos still punctuate the downbeats with
triplets. When the violins reach their high point, flutes, oboes,
and clarinets make a somewhat dramatic entrance to support the
harmony. The winds exit after two bars. The strings
continue with sighing gestures that lead to another statement of the
“dark” answering phrase from the opening, now with bass imitation and
richer harmony. It is extended with a viola echo and a
1:28 [m. 18]--The oboe enters
on an upbeat with the second theme of the
A section. The strings,
except for light viola support, drop out,
and other winds provide the harmony. The oboe melody incorporates
the sighing falls and dotted rhythms of the previous theme, but it is
more dynamic. After two statements of the opening gesture, it
rises to a full-hearted high point. Under this high point, the
strings surreptitiously enter in unison with the opening rise and fall
of the main theme. The oboe trails after this.
2:01 [m. 24]--The “dark”
answering phrase is played by strings with its
original harmony. A bassoon again doubles the first violins, and
there is horn support. The phrase is cut off before its last
sighing gesture, and is interrupted by a new syncopated descent
off the beat. This is slightly accented. Then, the
answering phrase begins again, but it is transformed into a satisfying
major-key cadence gesture that reaches a full close in E major.
This closes the A section and
merges directly into the B
B Section, Part 1
2:22 [m. 28]--Out of the
cadence, the first violins lead into a
lilting, leaping dotted rhythm that continues from the upbeat into the
next bar. The second violins and violas follow on the lilting
dotted rhythm as the first violins work upward by half-steps in
syncopation. They then turn back downward as the low strings
enter. They work back upward, now with the dotted rhythm
displaced by syncopation. The second violins and violas continue
with the original figures. There is then a huge swelling as the
bassoons and horns enter with the dotted rhythm. The music
suddenly darkens and turns to the related C-sharp minor.
2:50 [m. 34]--At the high
point, when C-sharp minor is reached, the
second violins and violas rush downward under the slower first
violins. The dotted rhythm is now played by the low strings and
suddenly takes on the character of a funeral march, a complete
transformation from the lilting, graceful figures just heard. The
upper strings continue to work downward, and only slightly diminish as
the low strings move to soft plucking. This stormy passage
culminates in a strong half-cadence that rapidly diminishes, leading
into Part 2 of the B section.
B Section, Part 2
3:13 [m. 39]--The principal
oboist, who has a long, gentle solo in
C-sharp minor, enters on the upbeat of the half-cadence. The
violins and violas begin a series of harmonized and highly syncopated
gestures, all of which begin off the beat. The first oboe note is
sustained for a full measure, and it only moves after the downbeat of
the next bar. This, combined with the syncopated accompanying
string figures, as well as the construction of the melody itself,
causes the meter and downbeat to become highly obscured. The oboe
melody meanders downward, then has an octave leap, after which it
begins to pivot to A-flat major. The principal clarinet enters
with a held note on an upbeat as the oboe wends its way downward.
3:32 [m. 44]--The clarinet
takes over the melody from the oboe and
takes a somewhat brighter tone, moving to D-flat (or C-sharp)
major. The syncopated gestures from violins and violas begin to
have some stepwise motion rather than simply repeating notes. The
clarinet breaks, then has a wide rising figure. Under this, the
low strings have entered. They take over the figuration of the
meandering melody as other winds also enter for a cadence.
3:52 [m. 49]--The winds drop
out. The syncopated gestures begin a
new phrase, and they suddenly begin to outline the contour of the
“answering” phrase from the A
section’s main theme. The winds
protest with descending lines that attempt to retain the major key, but
the strings become more insistent, and the winds give in, joining them
on the urgent syncopations and using the dark character of the
“answering” phrase to firmly move back to minor. Strong accents
on weak beats prolong the obscured meter and downbeat.
4:08 [m. 53]--At the high
point, where minor is established again, the
strings finally break from the off-beat syncopated gestures. All
strings play the original oboe melody in unison with an insistent
character. The winds play melancholy, wailing gestures above them
in octaves. The strings then depart from the oboe melody,
expanding it with an upward sweep and breaking into harmony while the
winds move to syncopated thirds. The higher strings reverse
direction while the lower strings take the upward sweep.
4:23 [m. 57]--The strings
continue to descend. The second violins
and violas move to undulating figuration, and the clarinets and
bassoons follow the descent in thirds. The top violin line
becomes more syncopated, and the music becomes more urgent as it
descends, leaping upward to postpone it. Finally, things start to
settle down, the winds take over, and the music moves back to major,
this time to the home key of E. Flutes and oboes, then violins
and violas, then clarinets and bassoons, then upper strings again are
isolated on harmonized four-note gestures. Violas and cellos then
close with a quiet, slower off-beat descent.
4:48 [m. 63]--Re-transition.
Overlapping entries on rising, then
falling figures, first in strings, then in winds, further obscure the
meter. Already beginning off the beat, they fall into groupings
of four notes that clash with the 3/4 bars. A soft timpani roll
begins during the string descent. At that point, slight
syncopation and extension help to restore a sense of pulse. The
passage is quiet and mysterious, and becomes more so when the timpani
roll is suddenly isolated.
5:09 [m. 67]--The winds
brightly enter on an upbeat that is held over
the bar. The theme emerges in the oboes and clarinets, but is
obscured by the flutes, who play an upper harmony. The strings
enter just after the winds, halfway through the upbeat, and play a
sweeping line that also obscures the appearance of the main
theme. The cellos play plucked arpeggios in triplet rhythm.
Only with the falling dotted rhythm is it clear that the theme has
arrived. The timpani roll ends, and the continuing string line,
rather than solemn horn octaves, bridges to the answer, which is now
stated clearly by flute, clarinet, and bassoon. The low strings
add an echo to the end of the answering phrase that was not heard at
5:37 [m. 72]--This music is
essentially analogous to 0:23 [m. 5], but
the sliding half-steps are now played by oboe. The other winds
provide the harmony in the opposite direction. The strings add an
entirely new element, rapid plucked rising arpeggios, then short notes
leading into the next bar. At the point where the low strings
enter with the surging triplet motion, the music appears to want to
follow the A section, but a
new and strong turn to the “dominant” key
of B major and a higher reach toward a descent prevent this.
5:57 [m. 76]--Analogous to 0:44
[m. 9], but not only is the key now B
major, the sliding half-steps are embellished with triplet
rhythm. The winds are now present throughout for support.
The three “motto” statements become progressively softer. The
third suddenly and dramatically swells to the high point, which is warm
and rich in comparison to the sighing gestures heard in the A
section. It is also extended by a bar as the music quickly
settles down again and the triplet rhythm stops. The “dark”
answering phrase is then heard essentially as it was at this point
before, only now in the new key and without the viola echo or
6:40 [m. 85]--An new wind
interpolation here is almost otherworldly in
effect. The wandering motion was already anticipated in the
extended high point, and the descending half-steps heard against the
wandering motion reverse the “motto.” The strings bring things
back to earth with the falling figures that introduced the statement of
the answering phrase just before. These lead to a full cadence in
B major that is overlapped by the upbeat entrance of the solo violin
that begins the second theme.
7:10 [m. 91]--The approach to
the second theme is on the same harmony,
but with a different effect. Rather than against a half-cadence,
it now enters on a full B-major cadence. Thus, the pivot back to
the home key of E adds fulfillment to this arrival. The theme
itself, formerly played by oboe alone, is now joined by a solo violin
and horn. The part for solo violin persists until the end of the
movement, as the concertmaster separates from the rest of the
violins. The theme follows 1:28 [m. 18] rather closely, but in
addition to the melodic doubling, there is a richer accompaniment, with
imitative rising gestures first from the remaining violins and violas,
then from flute and clarinet. The cellos have plucked triplet
arpeggios. The main theme still makes its entrance (without the
preoccupied cellos) at the high point, which is now much stronger.
7:46 [m. 97]--Analogous to 2:01
[m. 24], but the first statement of the
answering phrase is now played by flute and clarinet. The
syncopated interruption is given by the solo violin and oboe, with
plucked cello triplets making a last appearance. The cadence
statement is again taken by flute and clarinet, but it does not reach
completion. It merges directly into the coda, as the previous
passage had merged into the B
section, but other than in the bass, the
final motion to the cadence is avoided. The strings and timpani
begin the off-beat triplet figures that will underlie the opening of
8:06 [m. 101]--The solo horn
begins the coda with a full statement of
the first two gestures from the second theme. Strings and timpani
continue with the off-beat triplet figures, now with flutes, and the
low strings (with the second horn) have a long, sustained
keynote. The solo violin adds highly decorative commentary to the
horn statement, breaking into groups of six (sextuplets) against the
second gesture. The clarinets now take over the triplet arpeggios
that had just been heard from plucked cellos.
8:26 [m. 105]--The winds lead
into the high point of the main theme as
the strings drop out. The high point stalls, and the initial
falling figure is passed from flute to violins (without the solo) a
step higher, with accompaniment from other strings. The winds,
with flutes leading, then play the figure again, now a step lower than
the first statement, and the strings repeat this. Finally, the
solo violin and clarinet extend this falling figure, which diminishes
and reaches an anticipatory pause over fading strings and bassoons.
9:04 [m. 112]--The bassoons
play the answering phrase, imitated closely
by the oboes, with horn support and a surprising entrance from the
trumpets. The flutes join at the cadence, which overlaps with an
unexpected reminiscence of the B
section’s first part as the violins
and violas play the lilting dotted rhythm. The winds then fall
from the cadence, and the lilting strings slow down.
9:30 [m. 117]--On an upbeat
held into the next bar, a chord, punctuated
by a timpani roll and topped by the solo violin, introduces one more
statement of the half-step “motto.” It is harmonized by the
now-familiar contrary motion. The bass instruments, who dropped
out under the lilting rhythm, re-enter at the top of the motive, which
is followed by a warmly sweeping violin line, with the solo an octave
above the others. The “lilting” rhythm then enters on the same
pitches as before, but now played by winds (without oboe).
10:03 [m.123]--As before, a
chord enters on an upbeat held into the
next bar with a timpani roll. This time all instruments except
the solo violin participate. The “motto” is beautifully
transformed to two whole-steps instead of two half-steps, leading to a
gorgeous cadence. As it arrives, the strings, from low to high,
play plucked arpeggios in triplets, supported by timpani beats.
At the top, the solo violin, contrasted from the others by using the
bow, rounds off the triplets. On its last note, the winds play
their penultimate chord. The strings, now using bows, softly
confirm that chord, then all instruments, including the timpani with a
roll, reiterate it again. Only the solo violin holds its last
note over both of these reiterations.
10:57--END OF MOVEMENT [128 mm.]
3rd Movement: Un poco Allegretto e grazioso (Ternary form
[ABA’] resembling a scherzo and trio). A-FLAT MAJOR, 2/4
and 6/8 time.
FIRST SECTION or “Scherzo” (A),
0:00 [m. 1]--First part (a). The main melody is a
gently wandering phrase played by clarinets. Bassoon, horn, and
plucked cellos add harmony and counterpoint. The plucked cellos
establish a steady pulse, which they almost constantly maintain.
The upper strings enter at the end of the phrase. They, along
with the second clarinet, extend the phrase to a fifth bar while the
first clarinet sustains the last note. The second phrase is an
exact inversion (upside-down melody) of the first, with oboe added to
0:17 [m. 11]--The answering
phrase is in E-flat. Winds (without oboes) descend in a dotted
(long-short) rhythm, harmonized in thirds. Two two-bar descents
are followed by more arching figures, still in the dotted rhythm.
The strings, including the cellos, add sweeping arpeggios as a
counterpoint to the wind descents, and horns hold longer notes.
The strings join the dotted rhythm in the second half. The steady
plucking, now more static, is transferred to the string basses, who add
short breaks in the second half.
0:30 [m. 19]--The opening
melody returns, now played by the violins. The cellos return to
their steady plucking, and the first clarinet, which had presented the
melody, plays a bouncy counterpoint in triplet rhythm. Flutes and
oboes enter for the prolongation of the phrase, stretched to seven
total bars by internal half-step motion. The second phrase, which
is still an exact inversion, lacks the bouncy clarinet line, adds a
horn harmony, and adds oboes and bassoons (instead of flutes) at the
three-bar prolongation. The prolongation leading into the
answering phrase has rising half-steps that recall the “motto.”
0:54 [m. 33]--The answering
phrase in E-flat begins as before, with the two descents. The
second half is altered. The strings maintain their arpeggios
rather than joining the dotted rhythm. The oboe enters as a
participant, alternating with flutes and clarinets on the dotted
rhythm. Instead of turning back home to A-flat, the music instead
turns to the related minor key, F minor. This happens in a
four-bar extension in which both the strings and winds (first clarinets
and bassoons, then flute and oboes) descend a scale over two octaves.
1:13 [m. 45]--Second part (b). At the F-minor cadence,
the strings begin a distinctive pulsation, with low strings on the
first and last notes of quick four-note units, while violins and violas
play the middle notes of these units. The clarinet begins an
agitated melody that seems derived from both phrases of a. Flute and oboe take over
the melody after two bars. They greatly swell in volume. An
answering phrase erupts in flutes, clarinets, and bassoons, all playing
in thirds. This phrase turns to C major with some minor-key
inflection, and is quite exuberant. The strings have some minor
departures from the constant pulsation.
1:28 [m. 54]--The oboe plays a
new phrase of the agitated melody that goes in basically the opposite
direction from the original, a version of which is heard against it in
the low strings. A horn joins after two bars. The
pulsations continue, now with groups of three off-beat notes, and the
music builds again. The exuberant answering phrase arrives, but
stays in F minor and is cut off after three notes by murmuring violins
and violas. These diminish. A clarinet echo of the three
answering notes is heard, continuing the downward motion. The
murmuring stings again respond, bridging to the opening melody.
1:41 [m. 62]--Third part (a’). The opening melody
returns in its original instruments, clarinets and horns. The
motion from F minor back to A-flat happens smoothly in the plucked low
strings. To these elements is added the murmuring violin/viola
line, continuing from the end of b.
After the first phrase, the previous extension from the fifth bar is
used to begin a bridge to the Trio section. The sustained notes
and flowing motion under them are extended. Finally, the
murmuring violins and violas stop. The clarinets and horns,
followed by violins, play a slow descending arpeggio on the “dominant”
chord, E-flat, while the cellos pluck an upward arpeggio on that
chord. The bridge diminishes in volume, merging directly into the
SECOND SECTION or “Trio” (B), B
major, 6/8 time
1:56 [m. 71]--Part 1.
E-flat is re-interpreted as D-sharp, making a transition to the remote
key of B major for the trio. The basic material is three repeated
notes or chords in the winds beginning off the beat, alternating with
descending broken chords in the strings. Two of these
alternations are followed by a buoyant wind phrase with string
support. This pattern then happens again, now with horns and
bassoons on the repeated notes and with a turn to D-sharp minor (and
back to the “pivot” note from the opening).
2:10 [m. 79]--Part 1, varied
repetition. The first four bars are as before, but the second
statement of the pattern is shifted down a half-step and changed in
character to move to D major instead of D-sharp minor. It also
dramatically increases in volume.
2:24 [m. 87]--Part 2. The
basic pattern is stated two more times in a more dynamic manner as the
music takes a path back to B major with a detour through G. The
orchestration of the opening repeated notes is richer. The second
statement of the pattern greatly builds, and the “buoyant wind phrase”
expands into a climax with string arpeggios played in a shimmering tremolo. Under this buildup,
the bass line starts to move by half-steps, and there are strong, but
brief suggestions of another detour, this time to C major.
2:43 [m. 99]--The climax
arrives with highly syncopated wind instruments over continuing tremolo string arpeggios. At
the top, the trumpets, who have had a supporting role, join brightly on
the “buoyant phrase.” After this, the basic pattern is stated one
more time, now with the instruments reversed. The strings take
the repetitions and the winds the descending broken chords.
Following this, the strings again take the broken chords and run them
together, obscuring the meter. Strong syncopation in all
instruments leads to a strong cadence. Horns and trumpets play a
suddenly quiet harmonized arpeggio to lead back to the repeat.
3:01 [m. 87]--Part 2
repeated. Buildup toward climax, as before.
3:20 [m. 99]--Climax, as
before. Instead of the transition back to the repeat, the horns
and trumpets play the “repeated note” pattern on an octave. The
flutes, oboes, and bassoons then restate this. The note
D-sharp/E-flat is again used as a pivot, and this begins the
re-transition back to the main “scherzo” music.
THIRD SECTION or “Scherzo reprise” (A’),
3:38 [m. 109]--Re-transition.
The music shifts back to 2/4. The strings play a strong hint at
the opening of the main theme, but in A-flat minor rather than
major. Carrying over from the “trio,” the wind instruments
(except clarinets) continue to play the “repeated note” pattern in
octaves. This is now notated in triplet rhythm, effectively
remaining in the previous 6/8. Finally, the strings, in plucked
harmony under held winds, play a descent in A-flat minor leading to the
return of the main theme. This plucked descent is very similar to
the descending line that will open the last movement. Notes are
reiterated and rapidly diminish.
3:51 [m. 115]--The reprise is
abbreviated, and the middle section (b)
does not appear again. At the moment of return, the clarinets,
with the horn and plucked cellos, play as at the opening. The
major difference is that flutes and oboes above them are now playing
the “repeated notes” from the “trio” in triplet (6/8) rhythm.
They even recall the “buoyant phrase.” The melody and contour of
the first phrase are unchanged.
3:59 [m. 120]--The second
phrase, which had been a melodic inversion, is now completely changed
in character. It is transferred from the clarinets to the first
violins, who decorate and alter it in a manner that anticipates a major
portion of the finale’s main theme (the “big tune”). The plucked
cellos continue, and the second violins add syncopation.
Clarinets and bassoons play harmonized descending lines in triplet
rhythm, taking that motion over from flutes and oboes. The phrase
is extended from five to six bars. Flutes and clarinets play a
harmonized arpeggio leading into the “answering” material.
4:09 [m. 126]--The “answering
phrase” is quite similar to its earlier statements, and starts on the
same pitch level, but the harmony remains in A-flat rather than moving
to E-flat. The violin and viola arpeggios are played over more
static plucking from cellos and basses. After the first two
descents, the familiar “arching figures” begin in the dotted rhythm as
expected, with the entrance of the oboes. These, however, expand
powerfully in intensity. The string arpeggios become more
frequent, and the strings do not participate in the dotted rhythm as
they had previously done. The low plucking, however, does add the
4:28 [m. 138]--A small climax
arrives. Flutes, oboes, and horns play a three-note descent that
is very similar to the one heard in the transition from b to a at 1:28 [m. 54]. Under this,
the strings play plucked arpeggios, moving from low to high and
becoming quieter and slower as they go. These introduce chromatic
harmonies hinting at D-flat major and continue for a bar after the
descent. A second three-note descent is heard over another
plucked arpeggio. Finally, a third descent with notes twice as
slow is played by horns and clarinets. Only the cellos pluck
underneath them, now without the initial faster notes.
4:39 [m. 144]--Under a
sustained note from bassoons, horns, and first violins, the other
strings quietly play a darker version of the main theme in
unison. The instruments holding the note begin to move in the
third bar to create harmony, and the second violins leave the unison
statement to join them. The unison statement is answered brightly
by the winds with the “answering phrase.” The bassoons ascend
against the other winds. Finally, the strings take over the
phrase, the clarinets holding over from the winds. Violins and
clarinets ascend and the lower strings descend as they approach an
5:01 [m. 154]--Coda. Brahms indicates poco a poco più tranquillo,
a direction that seems to mean both gradually quieter and slower.
This already applies to the last statement of the answering
phrase. Brahms averts the cadence by bringing back the music of
the “trio,” notated with triplets. Violins play a harmonized
“repeated note” gesture, and the lower strings, with violas adding
harmony above them, play the descending broken chords. These move
briefly to D-flat. Flutes, clarinets, and bassoons answer them
with the formerly “buoyant” phrase, now very gently played, moving back
5:11 [m. 158]--The “trio”
pattern is heard again, now even more gently, with high winds playing
the “repeated note” pattern instead of the violins. The horns and
bassoons now add harmony to the descending broken chords. The
violins and violas take the answering phrase under wind
syncopations. They briefly build the tension toward a “dominant”
chord, held by the winds, then plucked by the strings. This
tension is finally releived with a delayed cadence, punctuated by a
last descending broken chord from the low strings.
5:37--END OF MOVEMENT [164 mm.]
Movement: Adagio - Più Andante - Allegro non troppo, ma con brio
(Varied Sonata-Allegro form with development and recapitulation
combined, and with large two-part introduction). C MAJOR (with
C-minor opening), 4/4 time, moving to Cut Time [2/2] at the Più
Part 1, Adagio, C minor
0:00 [m. 1]--In the ominous
opening, the violas and low strings play a four-note descent.
Overlapping with this, the violins, wind instruments, and timpani enter
with an anticipation of the main theme in a dark, tragic version.
They swell forward on this, and then rapidly diminish, with the
bassoons and violas trailing down as the violins play despairing
echoes. The descending winds recall the introduction of the first
0:48 [m. 6]--The strings begin
a strange passage of pizzicato
(completely plucked in all instruments). They pass two-note
figures between instrument groups, beginning very quietly. The
plucked strings very gradually gain momentum and volume as they move
through G minor, E-flat minor, and F minor. At the end of the
passage, they are moving quite quickly and press forward to a chord
that is suddenly cut off.
1:17 [m. 12]--The winds return
to the slow tempo and, in a wailing three-note descent, lead into
another statement of the “dark” anticipation of the main theme.
This time, the violins and violas state this at the same pitch level
where it will be heard in the exposition. They are bowed again
after the pizzicato
passage. Oboes, horns, and bassoons play the trailing lines, and
there is a single string echo.
1:49 [m. 16]--A second passage
of pizzicato, very similar to
the first, now has the low strings leading in the passing of two-note
groups. Again, the passage builds and speeds up, much more
quickly this time, as the passage is shorter than the first one.
The keys that are now suggested after C minor are B-flat minor and the
remote A-flat minor. The pizzicato
is now cut off after four bars.
2:15 [m. 20]--The low strings
hold a note as the flutes and oboes play a sighing response. The
low strings then surge slightly forward before they wait for another
string response. They then surge forward again. The music
has moved back to C minor.
2:26 [m. 22]--The winds now
press forward with the same material, building rapidly in volume.
The other strings join in on the “surging” figures. There is mild
syncopation in both winds and strings.
2:34 [m. 24]--Beginning in F
minor, the strings now play a series of broken, rapid descending lines
with light wind support. These lines diminish before a sudden
upward surge with brass and winds. They then descend and diminish
again. Finally, the flutes, oboes, and bassoons begin to play a
wailing three-note descent that will soon be revealed as the “alphorn”
figure that will dominate the second part of the introduction.
With the entry of a powerful timpani roll, this steady surge is
suddenly cut off. The C-minor key is somewhat sidestepped at this
point, but the low strings hold on, diminish, and descend, leading into
the new tempo and C-major key for the introduction’s second part.
Part 2, Più Andante, C
3:04 [m. 30]--Over a soft
timpani roll and the first entry of the trombones, the horns enter with
a suddenly noble and grand presentation of what Brahms called the
“alphorn” tune or what others have labeled as the “London chimes”
melody. After a bar, the violins and violas begin to play a
shimmering tremolo underneath
the tune. The horns pass the melody between themselves to
maintain breath support. The main characteristic of the melody is
its opening descent with prominent short-long rhythm. The melody
is nine bars long, with two longer notes in the second phrase extending
it a bar more than expected.
3:45 [m. 38]--As the horns
reach their cadence, the flutes enter in overlap with their famous
presentation of the “alphorn” melody. Like the horns, they pass
it between each other to maintain full breath and tone. The
trombones are largely absent now, but other instruments, such as
bassoon and horn, have prominent motions, including half-steps, under
the flute melody, and there is a trumpet echo. The shimmering,
hushed string tremolo continues along with the timpani roll (which
swells slightly), and the flutes play the complete two-phrase melody
without any overlap at the end.
4:31 [m. 47]--The trombones,
with bassoon support, intone a solemn chorale. This chorale will
not appear again until the very end of the movement, at the moment of
triumph, but its isolated presentation here is quite memorable.
The last leap downward of the chorale is punctuated by another timpani
4:58 [m. 52]--The horns, along
with one flute and one clarinet, pass the first bar of the “alphorn”
melody among themselves. The string tremolo and timpani roll surge
forward in volume. After four bars, the second half of the
melody, beginning with its highest note, is heard. The prominent
half-step motions are played by the trombones. The end of the
melody is fragmented and repeated, and the volume settles back down
rapidly. At the end, the horns play a last echo of the tune with
the trombones and hold it over as the other instruments, except for the
timpani, drop out. Horns and trombones are isolated on a
preparatory “dominant” chord. This anticipatory pause qualifies
as one of the most “golden” moments in all of music.
EXPOSITION - Allegro non troppo, ma con brio, C major
5:42 [m. 62]--Theme 1.
Emerging out of the “golden moment” is the “big tune,” the one that was
compared with the “joy” theme of Beethoven’s Ninth. The violins,
in their rich low register, present the glorious melody while the low
strings pluck beneath them, horns and strings adding support. The
opening upbeat leap is distinctive, and the connection to the “dark”
anticipation at the movement’s opening is clear. Halfway through
the melody, in the second phrase, is a melodic turn that is most
reminiscent of the Beethoven melody. This second phrase delays
its cadence by a bar as the oboes join in to support it. This
creates a 17-bar melody.
6:25 [m. 78]--As the theme
reaches its cadence, a second statement, or counterstatement, overlaps
it. This statement of the theme is led by the winds, most of whom
play at least fragments of it in gentle harmonies. Now all
strings provide a plucked accompaniment, and they are supported by the
timpani. Small rolls punctuate the timpani part. At the end
of the statement, the volume increases very dramatically. As the
cadence is approached, the violins and violas take up their bows to
reiterate and support it.
7:01 [m. 94]--Transition.
What sounds like it will be a third statement of the theme, this time a
grand one from the full orchestra, is instead almost immediately
fragmented, mainly isolating the opening three-note turn figure.
The motion toward G major begins. There are two large descents on
D minor and A minor with surging bass lines. The passage is
richly scored and heavily accented throughout.
7:22 [m. 106]--The transition
continues with running scales in strings and bassoons. Winds,
brass, and low strings add loud punctuations against these
scales. The motion to G major is delayed by a move back to C.
7:37 [m. 114]--The “alphorn”
theme from the introduction appears in its original instruments, flute
and horn. The horn imitates the flute on fragments of the
tune. The strings continue against this with agitated arpeggios,
and the cellos and basses add plucked punctuation. The motion to
G major is finally completed.
7:45 [m. 118]--Theme 2.
The low strings establish an “ostinato” bass on the same four-note
descent that opened the movement and is also implied within the
“alphorn” theme. The violins begin the theme, which winds
downward, leaps back up, and then flows forward. The volume
increases somewhat and the music hints at the related key of E
minor. The winds then enter with a continuation of the
theme. The strings recover this and build again. The low
strings finally move away from their anchor, moving their four-note
descents up a fifth. This buildup leads to a small climax with a
descending syncopation and then a skipping dotted (long-short) rhythm
8:10 [m. 132]--The oboe leads a
continuation of Theme 2 that is again quiet and gentle. It
incorporates a triplet rhythm, then moves to upward leaps. Other
winds support the line, and the violas have a pulsing
syncopation. The low strings add a distinctive foundation to the
ascending oboe leaps. This passage moves to the related key of E
minor, where the closing material is heard and where the exposition
8:31 [m. 142]--Closing
material. The violas begin with tremolo
arpeggios that steadily build. Violins join them. Horns and
trumpets begin to add punctuations. Eventually, the strings join
in a powerful downward-arching unison that leads to a soaring, sighting
dotted rhythm. Winds and brass add loud cadence figures to
this. This material briefly suggests D major, but as the sighing
figures work their way downward, the minor key is again firmly
established (E minor).
8:55 [m. 156]--The orchestra
cuts off, and the oboe leads another statement of the “soaring,”
sighing figures. It begins more subdued. To these are added
brief figures in triplet rhythm, first in the violas and then, more
loudly, in violins and lower strings. These “sighing” figures
again suggest D major. The loud cadence figures incorporate the
triplet rhythm. The oboe takes up the continuation with the
triplet figures again in the violas. This continuation is passed
to the flute, and the music again seems to move to G major (with minor
inflections), the key of Theme 2.
9:09 [m. 164]--The triplet
rhythm now completely takes over. The violins and violas quietly
begin to build on it in G major/minor. Suddenly, the whole
orchestra bursts forward with ascending triplet groups harmonized in
thirds. The violins play a powerful hammering dotted rhythm
against this, then take up triplets themselves in a slightly syncopated
continuation. This firmly re-establishes E minor. This
sequence of hammering figures and the syncopated continuation is heard
again at a higher level, leading to a solid E-minor cadence.
9:30 [m. 176]--The cadence is
given a strong reiteration by the full orchestra, including
trombones. A heavily syncopated leap is supported by rising
triplet figures in the winds and also thumping triplets in the
timpani. The strings then firmly state the cadence. The
syncopated leap is reiterated twice more, and then the winds and
strings play an extended version of the E-minor cadence that adds
strong, isolated final chords. Immediately after this powerful
cadence, the horn, oboe, and finally flute and clarinet play quiet
rising figures leading to the return of the “big” main theme.
9:48 [m. 186]--Theme 1.
This is the last time the “big tune” will be stated in its
entirety. This time, the scoring is much richer. The
violins still carry the melody, but there are new short, punctuating
chords in the winds, along with timpani beats and rolls, and the horns
double and harmonize the theme itself. The trumpets also add
punctuation. The theme’s material follows its first statement
quite closely until the end. The oboe enters to support the
cadence, as expected, but it diverts the harmony to a new key, E-flat
major, indicating that this is development as well as
recapitulation. The violins confirm the motion to E-flat and
bring the theme to a cadence. This extends the ending of the
theme by two bars.
10:27 [m. 204]--The theme has a
counterstatement, as before, but it already appears to begin the
“development” portion. Beginning in E-flat in the winds, with
plucked string accompaniment, it is suddenly arrested by a horn echo
that turns to minor. There follows a section of plucked string
figures passed from violins to low strings that is highly reminiscent
of the two strange pizzicato
passages from Part 1 of the introduction. This rapid plucking is
supported by chords in horns and bassoons, later trumpets as it builds.
10:41 [m. 212]--The key turns
up smoothly to F-sharp major, where the winds attempt to “recover” the
counterstatement. This time, the clarinets and bassoons play
“trailing” lines. The strings keep a vestige of the more rapid
pace just heard with notes after the beats in second violins and
violas. As before, a turn to minor, now from a clarinet and
bassoon echo, leads to a rapid pizzicato
passage reminiscent of the introduction. Horns and oboes join the
clarinets and bassoons as it builds. Low strings and violins are
reversed in position, and the harmonic motion is more dynamic than the
10:55 [m. 220]--Transition.
The digressions of the counterstatement prove to be anticipations,
rather than the beginning, of the development portion. The rapid
plucking leads back to the home key of C major, and the transition
begins with the grand statement of the theme and the continuation just
as it was heard at 7:01 [m. 94], through the large descents on D minor
and A minor. The bass line of the latter is slightly shifted.
11:15 [m. 232]--The
“development” actually begins here. The transition is interrupted
by two bars of heavily accented notes with longer echoes, all in the
strings, where the running scales would be expected. The scales
do begin after these bars, passed between violins and lower strings,
with wind support as before, but the harmonic motion is different,
settling this time on D minor. They are richly harmonized.
The scales retain a descending motion throughout and taper off rather
than building up.
11:35 [m. 244]--The scales
continue quietly in the strings. Figures derived from the opening
“turn” figure of the main theme are passed between oboe and flute,
still in D minor. Then the winds turn to a soaring line, over the
continuing scales, that makes a turn back to C major.
11:44 [m. 249]--The “turn”
figures, now including bassoon, are played by two instruments at a
time, still with dovetailing overlap. The scales are only in the
violins now, the cellos playing plucked arpeggios. The key is F
minor. The winds again turn to the “soaring” line, which first
moves to E major. It is given a second statement that moves back
11:59 [m. 257]--After a brief
breath, a powerful passage begins. It starts with figures
reminiscent of the two descents that ended the transition
passage. It then incorporates the descending scales, which are
passed between wind and string instruments with full harmonies and
heavily accented supporting chords. Finally, the strings take the
leaping descents while scale fragments are passed among the wind
instruments. The entire passage vacillates between C minor and F
12:17 [m. 268]--Beginning on an
upbeat, the winds begin to blast out the turn figures derived from the
main theme. They are supported by brass chords and timpani
rolls. The strings play isolated descending scale fragments
against each arrival point of the turn figures. Two pairs of
these patterns begin to work upward. A third pair has the violins
taking the turn figures over from the winds, and flutes joining the
scale fragments. Then, building toward a climax, the turn figures
are passed between the high strings and high winds, the lower
instruments of both groups providing support in long-short
rhythm. The figures remain static for three bars before moving
upward in the strings. Timpani beats and rolls underscore the
12:37 [m. 279]--In a tremendous
climax, the full orchestra blasts out descending figures that are
derived from the “alphorn” melody. These begin off the beat,
creating a highly disorienting syncopation. They are in C minor,
where the previous buildup has arrived. Timpani rolls support the
climax, and the trombones make their first entry since the end of the
exposition. The figures are passed between strings and winds with
full support. The strings then move downward, seeming to move
toward B-flat minor.
12:50 [m. 285]--In one of the
most remarkable moments of the symphony, the opening of the “alphorn”
theme is blasted by the violins, but the underlying harmony, a
“diminished seventh,” gives it a dark, highly tragic quality, and this
is underscored by a thundering timpani roll and full brass.
Almost immediately, the bass instruments descend and the volume rapidly
diminishes. The violins play another statement of the “alphorn”
gesture an octave lower, this time with its warm, familiar major-key
surroundings. This direct juxtaposition of agitation and
peacefulness is both striking and highly unexpected.
13:02 [m. 289]--The horns lead
a full statement of the “alphorn” melody that initially follows the
lines of the transition to the “golden moment” and the main theme at
the end of the introduction from 4:58 [m. 52]. Unlike that
passage, this one does not have the shimmering string tremolos. There are instead
smoothly moving harmonies in violas and cellos, and the violins
participate in the “alphorn” statement. At the moment where the
“golden moment” would be expected, the violins take over, and they
extend the anticipatory passage. Brahms marks this “calando”
(“dying”), and the strings slowly descend under pulsating
timpani. This extension and alteration serves to prepare Theme 2
instead of the main theme.
13:45 [m. 301]--Theme 2.
The theme appears and picks up the recapitulation again. This
time, it has an introductory bar that introduces the descending
four-note “ostinato” in all strings before the actual theme
begins. After this new introductory bar, the theme follows the
pattern from 7:45 [m. 118], now in the home key of C major, and with
some significant changes in scoring. Most notable among these is
that every other statement of the descending “ostinato” is now played
by wind instruments (flute, clarinet, and bassoon), alternating with
the low strings four times. A continuation previously taken by
winds is played by violins and violas. The descending
syncopations and skipping dotted rhythms are largely as before.
14:10 [m. 316]--The
continuation from 8:10 [m. 132] is also rescored. The quiet and
gentle line with the triplet rhythm is now played by violins.
When the upward leaps arrive, the responses to them are played by horn
as well as the original instrument, the oboe. At the very end of
the line, an alteration and expansion of the final fall prevents the
key change that happened here in the exposition, which would have
placed the closing theme in A minor. This alteration allows the
music to remain in C, shifting from major to minor.
14:32 [m. 326]--Closing
material. This is analogous to 8:31 [m. 142], with no significant
alterations other than key. It is in C minor, and not the
expected and analogous A minor, as the symphony must end in C.
The key that is briefly suggested at the loud cadence figures is B-flat
14:55 [m. 340]--The passage
from 8:55 [m. 156] is restated here with some changes in scoring.
A flute joins the oboe on the “soaring, sighing” figures. The
triplets are played by both violins and violas from the outset.
The continuation that was passed from oboe to flute is now taken by
clarinet throughout, first doubled by horn and then by oboe at the
point where it had been passed to the flute.
15:09 [m. 348]--The material
from 9:09 [m. 164], with the buildup on the triplet figures and the
hammering dotted rhythm, is given with no significant changes other
15:29 [m. 360]--The strong
reiterations of the cadence with syncopated leaps from 9:30 [m. 176]
are given, but this time without the entry of the trombones or
timpani. The first statement of the cadence after the first
syncopated leap is, however, more richly scored, with full winds.
The extended cadence, now in C minor, follows, and the timpani make a
later entrance at the end where they had not played before, perhaps to
compensate for not playing the triplets under the syncopated leaps.
TRANSITION TO CODA
15:42 [m. 367]--Over tremolo violas, the horns, then
violins, and finally clarinets, play the gentle and quiet ascending
figures that had led into the restatement of Theme 1 before.
Violins then join in the tremolo,
trombones make a subdued entrance, and the winds play ominous
descending lines, all at a hushed level.
15:59 [m. 375]--Trombone,
contrabassoon, and low strings play the opening of the main theme in a
similar manner to the darker version heard in the introduction.
There begins a long timpani roll. The winds play soft echoes, and
the violins play ascending arpeggios in tremolo that are reminiscent of the
“closing” material. After two statements of this material, it is
wrenched upward a half-step for a third statement. Then
everything is abbreviated, the arpeggios, the Theme 1 fragments, and
the wind responses. There is a huge buildup in volume as well as
speed (marked “stringendo“). The figures become faster, shorter,
and syncopated, finally culminating in seven rapidly hammered chords,
the timpani breaking the roll to join.
16:24 [m. 391]--The tempo
changes to “Più Allegro” and the meter is changed to cut time
[2/2] to reflect this acceleration. The music turns strongly back
to the major key. There, the strings, supported by timpani, begin
churning on three notes derived from the main theme’s “turning”
figure. Against this, the winds and brass play two powerful and
jarring “diminished seventh” chords that resolve to more pleasing
harmonies. The “churning” music gives rise to more melodic
figures that are passed between winds and violins, the lower strings
and timpani maintaining a steady beat. Finally, as the tension
and buildup have reached their maximum level, the winds begin to
“churn” on the “turning” figure, punctuated by timpani beats and
hammering string falls.
16:42 [m. 407]--The tension is
released in the symphony’s highly dramatic “moment of triumph.”
All brass and strings joyously proclaim the “chorale” theme that was
only heard before in the second part of the introduction, at 4:31 [m.
17:04 [m. 417]--The music
regains its momentum by isolating an upward turning figure from the
“chorale” and joyously pressing forward in a broad triplet
rhythm. The strings begin this, the winds adding syncopated
chords, and then the winds take the turning figure themselves along
with both low and high strings. This music is reminiscent of a
moment from the end of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony where the chorus
sings the words “was die Mode streng geteilt” in unison.
17:13 [m. 427]--The strings now
play faster triplet figures that are reminiscent of the ascending
triplets from the end of the “closing material” in the exposition and
recapitulation. Winds and low strings continue the harmonies and
slower triplets. Everything is then arrested in a strange unison
statement of an downward arching figure that is supported by timpani
rolls. This is given twice. It is reminiscent of both the
“alphorn” melody AND a line from the main theme of the first
movement. It seems to begin a third time, with an entry of the
trombones, but it follows a more pleasing downward path, leading to
three short, strong chords on the expectant “dominant” harmony.
17:34 [m. 447]--The “churning”
derived from the main theme begins the closing passage. It is
supported by loud brass and wind chords. It works its way
upward. A timpani roll is heard over a powerful ascending
arpeggio from the bass instruments. This leads to three short and
strong C-major chords from the whole orchestra, followed by the final
long, extended chord, under which is another timpani roll.
17:53--END OF MOVEMENT [457 mm.]
END OF SYMPHONY
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