Beethoven's 9th Symphony:
Idea, Composition, Premiere and After


In 1822, Beethoven told Rochlitz about a symphony with a choral section, as in the olden days.

While sketching the 1812th and 7th symphonies in 8, the idea of ​​a new symphony was in Beethoven's mind. When his notes were examined, the only clue about this new symphony was that it would be in D minor tonality.

The anticipated inspiration showed itself to the composer in 1815, when a fugue (the introduction to the 9th Symphony - Scherzo section) theme was written by Beethoven in his notebook.

The page on which the theme was written also contained sketches of the Piano and Cello sonata with the work number Op.102.
Although the theme is subject to different debates in terms of inspiration, according to Czerny, the composer composed this melody based on the chirping of sparrows.

By 1817, the fugue theme I mentioned above reappears in a different form while preserving its rhythmic dynamics.
According to Nottebohm, Beethoven would use this theme in his Fugue for string instruments, but Op. Fugue 137 was composed in D major tonality and on another theme.

The parts of the first part in the sketches of 1817 showed us that the work had begun to be composed. By the beginning of 1818, it was seen that the first part had more comprehensive sketches, and although the main theme was clarified, the auxiliary content was not ready yet.

The fugue theme was assigned to the third part. There was no idea yet to use Schiller's poem “Ode to Joy”.
In 1818, it was planned to use the human voice in the slow-paced part of a symphony. Beethoven told Rochlitz in 1822 that he had two symphonies in mind, and that he planned a choral section in one of them, as in the past. During this period, Beethoven was busy with the piano sonata Op.106, while he was busy with these sketches in his spare time.

The 9th Symphony was interrupted by compositions such as Missa solemnis, the last three piano sonatas, and the Die Weihe des Hauses Overture.

In the sketches of 1822, serious progress was observed in the first part of the symphony, the Schzerzo section was progressing slowly and the fugue theme of 1815 remained unchanged.

Although there is no detail about the 'slow tempo' section mentioned by Beethoven, the melody of "Ode to Joy" was first put on paper with the note "Final" just below it.

This attempt was not a definitive idea for the composer, but an experiment. In a different sketch from the same year, Beethoven noted the parts of the Symphony he had in mind as follows; The first part he has already composed, the second part in 2/4 time, the three in 6/8 stroke and the last part with a fugue theme from 1817.

The last sketch of 1822 was like a thematic index of the symphony: the second part is Scherzo with the fugue theme of 1815, the fourth part is the 2/4 time presto, and the fifth part is “Ode to Joy”.

In the middle of these sketches, the note “A Bach-themed overture instead of a new symphony” is striking. Except for the part that appears in the first part, the 9th symphony was in a mess. The first half of 1823 was devoted to the first part of the symphony.

This section, in sketch form, was completed before any of the other sections were ready yet. When the basic structure of the work is revealed, the simultaneous composing of two or three different parts begins, which is a familiar skill for Beethoven.

To summarize the situation, 1823 was the birth year of the symphony, and the work spread to 1824. The second part in August and the third part in mid-October were completed in sketches. The slow tempo second part was finalized before the first part was completed.

Beethoven's nephew Karl wrote in the autumn of 1823 in the chat book in which he communicated with people in writing because of his hearing loss: So glad you brought this beautiful Andante

The main theme of the episode emerged between May and July 1823, but it underwent many changes before it took its current form. The same was true for the final part, which resembled a simple folk tune. Looking at the sketches of the finale, we can see that Beethoven has made admirable progress for "Ode to Joy".

The composer was aware that the notes he wrote for the human voice had reached dangerous levels.

The composer, who wrote down a melody in D minor tonality in June or July of 1823, uses the phrase "Instrumental Finale" as the title.

This melody transposed to A minor, Op. Used in the 132 Quartet finals.

It is quite clear that this melody was considered the finale of the 9th symphony, as it was filled with sketches of the symphony in D minor.

When he started working on the finale, he first handled the chorus part with instrumental variations, then added recitative to the instrumental introduction. When the melody "Ode to Joy", as noted in the autumn of 1822, was adapted for the finale, the second part of the melody underwent many changes.

Looking at the notes, Beethoven's works can be easily observed. For the Allegro part, “Turkish Music- first soft – few voices ppmo – pause – then music with full force”.

A note on the choir: “The treble of the voices must be carried up by the instruments”. This last note showed that the composer was aware that the notes he wrote for the human voice had reached dangerous levels. So he had to use the support of instruments.

Although there is no evidence that a vocal and instrumental bridge was established before July 1823, we observe that the idea of ​​presenting the "Ode to Joy" melody accompanied by wind instruments and a prelude with a recitative style was formed in August.
Although the first step of the melody we listen to today has been taken, the missing piece was the verbal bridge that will connect the instrumental parts with the choir finale. Beethoven solves this shortcoming when he returns to Vienna from Baden.
The sketches include the following note in Schindler's handwriting:

When he came to the development part of the fourth episode, he got into a struggle that is rare. His aim was to properly present Schiller's "Ode to Joy". One day he entered the room and shouted, “I found it! I found!"
He showed me his sketches. On it was written: 'Let's sing the Freude song of the immortal Schiller'.

Immediately after, a solo voice began the poem with praise.

Beethoven spent about a year on the 9th symphony.

By the end of 1823, the entire symphony was completed in sketch form, and it was regularly printed on sheet music in February 1824.

Between the beginning of the composition of the first movement (1817-18) and the completion of the symphony, approximately 6,5 years had passed.
It should not be forgotten that during this time, many works and subjects intervened, and it was not possible for the composer to devote his full time to the work. This situation can be given Missa Solemnis, which started in 1822, spread almost throughout 1823, and ended at the beginning of 1824.

If we deduct the works he handled and the time he spent, Beethoven spent about 9 year for his 1th symphony.

Composing Schiller's "Ode to Joy" was something that Beethoven had in mind long ago.

In the letter Professor Fischenich wrote to Schiller's wife Charlotte in 1793, there was an interesting detail about his conversation with Beethoven. The professor writes: He suggested composing for Schiller's Freude, line by line!

Fantasy for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra (Op.1808), which he composed in 80, became the final piece for Beethoven with the chorus that started with the first orchestra.

He compared this work with the choral section of the 9th symphony in his letters (10 March 1824, Schott).

Since the symphony was presented to the world, many questions and doubts about the choral finale had preoccupied the minds of professionals and amateurs alike, as well as musicians.

Speaking to Otto Jahn in 1852, Czerny said that after the premiere of the symphony, Beethoven was considering composing a different finale by removing the choral sections.

Seeing this note on Otto Jahn's papers, Schindler wrote "Not true" on the margin of the paper.

It may be possible that the composer used such an expression, but it is clear that this was not a serious implication or that he later changed his mind because he kept the notes in his hands for six months and then sent them to print without changing them.

Sonnleithner's 1864 letter to the editor of the famous newspaper of the time, Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, confirms Otto Jahn's speech.

“Two singers visited us today, they wanted to kiss my hand. They were so beautiful, I offered to kiss my lips”


He adds that Beethoven saw the finale as a mistake after the symphony premiere and considered writing an instrumental finale. Although it is known that the composer's first plan was an instrumental finale, the time and effort he spent to establish an organic connection with Ode to Joy does not make the idea that he focused on a different finale very realistic. Our most important source of information about the world premiere of the 9th Symphony in Vienna will be Schindler, because he was not only present at the concert, but also took an active part in the preparations.

Beethoven had a negative view of Vienna's musical tastes. He wanted to present his symphony, but was afraid of not being understood by the art lovers of the country he lived in.

According to him, the Viennese had abandoned their German ideals and were caught up in Rossini's ornate melodies.

Although his close friends tried to encourage him, Beethoven was deeply judgmental that he was not understood by the Viennese.

A concert organization including Missa Solemnis had started to be discussed months ago.

Beethoven has known young singers Karoline Unger and Henriette Sontag since 1822. In a letter dated September 8, 1824 to his brother Johann, “Two singers visited us today, they wanted to kiss my hand. They were so beautiful, I offered them to kiss my lips”.

Judging from the conversation book, in which people communicated by writing due to hearing problems, it was observed that Beethoven saw young singers quite often in 1823, and the two of them had a quarrel over their deep respect and respect for the great composer.

At the end of 1823, Schindler wrote in his speech book: If they don't come, it's just because they're jealous. Unger told me he was coming alone, so I told him he had to bring Sontag as well. Let's see what will happen?

Unger visited the composer alone in December and January, during which the issue of their involvement in the premiere of the 9th symphony blossomed.

A possible delay would be very dangerous as the concert season was approaching the end.

This time Unger wrote in the notebook on January 25, 1824:

When will you give the concert?
If you give a concert, you can be sure that the hall will be packed.
You have very little self-confidence. Did the admiration of the whole world give you nothing but pride? Who speaks otherwise? Can't you learn to believe that the whole world will love your new compositions? Oh stubbornness!

Beethoven's low morale and distrust of Viennese art lovers prevailed.

He contacts Count Brühl, who lives in Berlin, and asks if the premieres of both the new symphony and the Missa solemnis can be held in Berlin again. Brühl happily accepts the offer.

This situation is soon heard in Vienna. Art lovers who appreciate him and do not want to lose these giant works to another country write the famous letter dated February 1824. The long letter, in which the admiration and appreciation for Beethoven was written, stated in the conclusion that the people of Vienna were waiting with great excitement for the premiere of the works.

I would like to point out some of the names that signed this letter: Prince Lichnowsky, Artaria & Co, A. Streicher, Count Stockhammer, Anton Diabelli, Count Palfy, Baron Schweiger, Carl Czerny, Dr. Sonnleithner, Steiner & Co.

Of course, Count Lichnowsky played the biggest role in collecting these signatures. The letter is published in Bauerle's newspaper 'Theater'. After the letter was published in the newspaper, it was rumored that Beethoven knowingly leaked this situation, and the composer was very angry about this situation. To remedy the situation, the palace secretary von Felsburg and JN Bihler personally visit the composer.

By March he tells Schindler that the premiere will take place in Vienna. The news soon spread, the artists and the aristocracy rush to Beethoven to convey their happiness and well-wishes, conveying that they are ready to help him in all matters.

Beethoven's inner circle comes together and details such as the date, venue, program, choir and orchestra, singers, duplication of notes, seat prices and number of rehearsals begin to be planned for this grand premiere.

Beethoven insisted that the conductor be Umlauf and the chief violinist Schuppanzigh.

A possible delay would be very dangerous as the concert season was approaching the end. Beethoven's indecisive and suspicious attitude to the issues made delay possible.

During this period, Schindler had a very intense workload. Lichnowsky and Schuppanzigh, on the other hand, were trying to finalize the issues they saw as missing with intense effort.

The composer's brother, Johann, had come for the commercial part. Although Schindler did not like it, his nephew Karl did not hesitate to express his opinions on matters other than the errands assigned to him.

A page from the speech book will give you an idea about the consultation of the concert process with Beethoven. As it turned out, the composer's approval had to be obtained for all the details.

Schuppanzigh writes:
How is your concert?
You have to give all three parts [meaning Miss Solemnis]
There is no question of a piano piece.
No pianist here
For the intellectual community, Piringer is on, Sonnleithner will take care of the singers, and Blahetka will be in charge of advertising and tickets.
He offered himself
All singers at Sonnleithner's fingertips

Here is Karl's correspondence:
Piringer handles the selection of musicians. Sonnleithner will take care of the choir. Schuppanzigh is the orchestra.
When will you announce?
Schuppanzigh is coming tomorrow
Blahetka suggested stamping the tickets, but it would be safer if your brother took care of these matters.
Piringer is very talented, but not as much as Schuppanzigh. It wouldn't be right to rule him out on anything, he tried so hard.

Theater-an-der-Wien was the first choice as a concert venue. Count Palffy, who was the director of the hall, demanded 1200 florins for the musicians, the choir and unlimited rehearsals.

Although the proposal sounded good, the fact that the lead violinist was Franz Clement created a problem. Beethoven wanted the conductor to be Umlauf and the chief violinist to be Schuppanzigh.

Director Palffy, who has not turned down Beethoven's requests until this time, wants this change to be made without hurting Clement's pride. He believes that the way to achieve this is through a letter written by Beethoven.

Meanwhile, Schindler was in talks with Karnthnerthor Theater director Duport.

Approaching the offer with enthusiasm, Duport was concerned about ticket prices, and soloist and orchestra fees. Knowing how indecisive Beethoven was on all these issues, the art community justifies Duport's concern.

Lichnowsky, Schindler and Schuppanzigh produced a solution in their own way. They would visit Beethoven at random, write down the exposed topics in the speech book as if filling out an official paper, and get Beethoven's autograph if possible.

It did not take long for the great composer to realize what he wanted to do, and he gave up giving a concert. He forwards the note he wrote in accordance with his style to his friends:

To Count Moritz Lichnowsky:
I hate betrayal. Don't visit me anymore. There will be no concert!
To Mr. Schuppanzigh:
Don't visit me anymore. There will be no concert!
To Schindler:
Don't visit me unless I need you. There will be no concert!

The three friends wait for the composer to calm down instead of being put in this situation. Concert preparations continue from where they left off.
Schindler forwarded Palffy's offer of 1000 florins for Theater-an-der-Wien, including orchestra and lighting. Palffy's condition was that the second or third concert be given in his hall.

Considering that there will be no copying costs, Palffy states that if ticket prices are kept at a reasonable level, an income of 4000 florins will be provided, 2000 fl for the first concert and 3000 fl for the second concert.

Palffy, who did not demand advance payment, was more attractive to Beethoven, who was open to change of mind, and the composer consulted with his close circle.

What was written in the speech book in March:

Lichnowsky: It is true that the orchestra would be doubled, but more would be superfluous. When Schuppanzigh and Umlauf find out what is under their rule, we tell them what we want from them.
Schindler: Licnowsky said that a small orchestra would be more effective at the Theater-an-der-Wien rather than a large orchestra in the Redoutensaal.
Lichnowsky: Avoid unnecessary costs
Schindler: You don't have to take all the services offered at Theater-an-der-Wien, you just pay for what you want. If it's convenient for you, we can hold the concert on the 22nd, 23rd or 24th of this month.
Lichnowsky: You will make money, even more if you give a second concert. In the second concert, the pieces do not need to be new. You put on the program the remaining two parts of the same symphony and Missa solemnis.
Schindler: Ticket prices are very reasonable. Part 2 fl, hall 2 and seats 3 fl.

* Next day *

Schindler: -Schuppanzigh is delighted that you have signed with Palffy. He will give us the entire orchestra of the hall.
The choir staff is good, but Schuppanzigh finds their age too young.
-The women's choir was pretty bad. Thank God only men will be required.
-Solo voices are too weak and young for the hall
-Soprano no more than sixteen years old
-Palffy will send you the agreed terms in writing tomorrow.
We chose the best 12 out of 6 violins.
-Palffy's only request is to explain the situation to Clement with sensitivity. We would like you all to write you a letter to inform Clement of the situation.

-He may be given the direction of the second concert, Schuppanzigh confirms.
-Böhm will play the first violin

The issue with Clement is not as easily resolved as Schindler anticipated. He refused to be deprived of the honor of being in the concert, and the Theater-an-der-Wien orchestra took his side and declared that they would not play with Schuppanzigh.

Although Schindler took the backlash for Clement's participation to Count Palffy, the Count was well aware that a horse can be taken to water, but not forced to drink.

Palffy conveyed that he could have the orchestra play under Schuppanzigh, but he did not want to be responsible for the resulting situation.

Conveying the situation to Beethoven, Schindler stated that if Palffy supports Clement, his salon contract could be cancelled.

Although it was anticipated that the concert would be held at the Theater-an-der-Wien until the end of April, Beethoven's indecisive attitude left this important venue choice unclear.

The situation that could not be clarified with the two halls led to the addition of the Redoutensaal and the Landstandischer (smaller) hall to the list as a third option.

Learning of the Landstandischer option, Schindler and Lichnowsky tell Beethoven that the hall has only 500 seats and that the nobles will not come here. According to Nephew Karl, renting this hall would cancel out the problems encountered in other halls.

Although Schindler and Lichnowsky were taken in by Beethoven's taking seriously other people's comments (referring to his nephew) rather than his own words, it was eventually agreed with the Karnthnerthor Theatre.

Although Beethoven thinks of the evening as concert time, his brother Johann says that evening concerts are 1500 florins more expensive than those given during the day. Schindler objects to Johann, who states that the Landstandischer hall is suitable for evening concerts. There will be another concert at the Landstandischer Hall on that date. Unger and Sontag would not be able to attend Beethoven's concert as they would be performing at that concert. Therefore, all the nobility would prefer this cooler cast, and participation in the composer's concert would be doubtful.

It has been announced that the concert will be held at the Theater-an-der-Wien until 21 April. Deciding at the last moment, the team would hold the concert at the Karnthnerthor hall.

The team hired to copy the notes worked under the supervision of the wife of Schlemmer, Beethoven's deceased ex-copyist.

Palffy accepted the composer's requests. It was later understood that there was a conspiracy against Schuppanzigh within the orchestra, which caused complications that would affect Beethoven's choice of hall.

Beethoven would pay 400fl for the hall, choir, lighting and orchestra.

In Schindler's letter to Duport dated April 24, the artist organization is stated as follows:
Sontag (Soprano), Unger (Alto), Preisinger (Bass), Umlauf and Schuppanzigh will be the leaders of the orchestra, while the rest of the choir and orchestra will be completed by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde.
24 Violins, 10 violas, 12 double bass and cello, wind instruments will be doubled. So there will be room for extra elements on the stage.

Although Duport was told to consider May 3 or 4 for the concert date, May 7 was officially accepted with the above conditions.

For Beethoven, the most annoying of the issues that have not yet been clarified were ticket prices. Although an application was made to increase the normal tariff, it was not accepted.

Although Therese Grünbaum stood out among the soloists, the choice was made differently due to Beethoven's love for Sontag. Jager was recommended as the tenor, and Anton Haitzinger was chosen for professionalism. While Forti and Preisinger were rivals for the bass part, it was decided that Preisinger was more musical.

Preisinger, who took part in the rehearsals, failed in the second part of the recitative part. Since it would not be possible to summon Forti again, the task was given to Seipelt in the existing orchestra tile.

Although it was planned that the concert would start with Op.124 Overture, continue with Missa solemnis and end with the 9th symphony, it was considered that the duration would be too long, first Gloria (Missa solemnis) and then Sanctus (Missa solemnis) were removed from the list.

The team hired to copy the notes worked under the supervision of the wife of Schlemmer, Beethoven's deceased ex-copyist.
In this rush, an unexpected snag arises. The censorship board does not approve the program when the church objects to the performance of the sacred content Missa solemnis in a hall. Beethoven, with Schindler's recommendation, wrote a letter to the board in April, stating that canceling the program would also cancel the concert and all expenses would be lost. The answer is again negative.

"You'd be too hard on your ears, I wouldn't recommend directing the whole concert alone"


Count Lichnowsky steps in, everything returns to normal with a letter to Sedlnitzky, the head of the local police.

The choir director Dirzka had success in rehearsals. Schuppanzigh was working with string instruments in Ridotto's rehearsal rooms, while soloists were rehearsing under the supervision of Beethoven. Umlauf accompanied these rehearsals.

All requests for changes made due to the difficulty of the vocal score were turned down by Beethoven. The only change was for Preisinger, who couldn't hit high f sharp notes in the bass section, although Preisinger did not perform at the concert.
This was not noticed by Beethoven, who sat among the artists and gave the beats.

It was expected that the soloists, who could not sing the high notes in the rehearsals, skipped these parts in the concert. Two rehearsals were held, and the third was canceled due to a ballet rehearsal on the same day.

Appearing at the door at the last rehearsal held on May 6, Beethoven thanked all professional and amateur artists one by one. While the concert announcement was being prepared, Duport, who was in commercial concern, added that Beethoven would also conduct the orchestra with Umlauf.

Evaluating the situation with Beethoven, Schindler makes the following notes in his speech book:
I ignored it because I didn't know how to respond.
You can definitely lead the overture alone
You'd be too hard on your ears, I wouldn't recommend directing the whole concert alone

When it was time for the concert, the hall was completely full. The only vacant part was the royal family's lodge. Before the concert, Beethoven, who went to visit the family with Schindler, promised to attend, but the king and queen had left Vienna a few days before the concert. Close friend Archduke Rudolph could not attend the concert because he was in Olmütz.

According to the concert review published in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung on 1 July 1824 (Vol. 26, p. 438), the concert was far from perfect. The lighting is bad, the nuances and power are faded. Despite all this, it was obvious that the music sounded strange to the ears, but the effect it left received a very enthusiastic applause.

“Sir, you don't have a black coat!”


At the beginning of the Scherzo episode, in the episode, which was supposed to be a timpani score, the audience could not hold back from their excitement and it was performed again. Buried in the notes in his hand, Beethoven had not noticed.

At the end of the Scherzo section or symphony, Beethoven still stares at his notes, while Unger takes him by the arm and points to the applauding audience. Noticing the situation, the composer greets the hall. There were two different sources who wrote about this event.

The first was that it took place at the end of the concert, as Unger and Schindler explained, and the second was pianist Thalberg's statement that it took place after the Scherzo section.

Thayer had seen Thalberg in Paris on November 28, 1860 and had spoken to him about the concert. Thalberg tells him about the concert: In 1824, I attended Beethoven's concert. He was wearing a black frock coat. Schzerzo, who could not hear the applause after the episode, pulled Beethoven by Unger's arm and turned him back to the audience. Umlauf had said that the choir and orchestra should follow him and not take into account the tempo given by Beethoven.

The only place where Thalberg's account was certain to be wrong was Beethoven's dress. Before the concert, Schindler's notes in the speech book are as follows: We took everything with us, including your green coat. You wear it while managing * The hall will be dark, no one will notice! * Sir, you don't have a black coat…

After the concert, Beethoven's friends came to congratulate him. Beethoven had received the report on the concert from Schindler. The following notes about the concert are written in the speech book:

I've never heard such a crazy applause in my life.
The second part of the symphony was interrupted by applause - a repetition was requested.
A noble interest
The blowers were very brave
Police chief warned to be quiet as Parter tried to applaud for the fifth time
In Paris and London, this concert brings between 12 and 15 thousand florins.
Send it to me after Karl comes home from school. Under his supervision, we will count the proceeds of the concert, he will receive the money.

Concert revenues fell far short of Beethoven's expectations. Gross profit was 2200 florins, leaving a low figure of 420 florins after all expenses were deducted. Beethoven was not only saddened by the situation, but also very offended and angry.

Schindler invited Umlauf and Schuppanzigh to the restaurant “Zum wilden Mann” in the Prater. Schindler said that the composer had come with his nephew, his brows were frowning, and his words were cold and distant.

Shortly after the meal begins, Beethoven, mad with anger, accuses the hall management and Schindler of defrauding him. Umlauf and Schuppanzigh are unable to convince Beethoven, although they say that this is impossible, that his nephew Karl was present, along with the bank statements of the two cashiers.

Most likely, this reliable source was his brother Johann. Johann was jealous of Schindler and could not accept his brother's consultation with him on business matters. The following note in the speech book by his nephew Karl illuminates the matter:

Schindler spoke of a person who heard Johann say to a group of people, 'I'm waiting for the concert to end to kick him out of the house'

Forbes, Elliot. Thayer's Life of Beethoven II. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1967.


Your email address Will not be published.