The Structure of Beethoven's 1st Symphony

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The Structure of Beethoven’s first Symphony The Structure in the first movement of Beethoven’s 1st symphony typically follows the sonata form principal, however with addition of a slow introduction which strays away slightly from typical sonata. The Introduction spans bars 1-12. The movement begins in a rather unexpected way. Beethoven sort of makes a “musical joke”, as symphonies from around these times would usually begin in a grand and dramatic manner. Beethoven however starts the Symphony very quietly and solemnly, introducing no clear themes, only cadences. The first few measures serve to build up a dominant tension, relative to the tonal centre of G, which first resolves at the allegro con brio. This dominant tension plays a key role in the entire Symphony. There is tonal insecurity right from the start. Beethoven strategically avoids the tonic key, leaving the listener clueless of what is coming next, until around bar eight, where Beethoven gives us a clear sense of C major. The 1st subject begins in bar 13, and ends in bar 33. Here, Beethoven eventually confirms the key of C major, but in a much understated manner. The first subject emphasises the tonic key, by means of strong dominant tonic relationship in the melody in bars 13-16. Like much of Beethoven work, this section is economical in its use of themes, motifs and melody. Beethoven repeats the same material repeatedly, often using snippets of main themes. The harmony used in the first subject is very simple and stationary, only really using chords I and V. The first Theme is fanfare like, repetitive, and features motifs that are transformed sequentially is made effective as an arrival point from the dominant tension of the introduction. This theme melodically is rather mundane, as its pitches are the arpeggiation of a C major chord, the next twenty bars as a statement of the first theme establish
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