Ludwig Van Beethoven Symphony Number 8 in F

I discovered Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony by accident.  It came with the Karajan recording on Deutche Grammaphon the Ninth Symphony that I bought at a mall while shopping for a birthday present for my niece.  This symphony tends to get overshadowed by the Seventh and Ninth symphonies.  And it is often remembered for its “whistenable” second movement.  

However, as Leonard Berstein pointed out, the first movement is really a powerhouse and has probably the longest fortissimo section of any piece of classical music ever written.  It starts around measure 130 and goes on for some 70 measures.

It is shorter than most of his other works, and on the whole, happier in tone than the two symphonies that sandwich it. In a way it has a kind of efficiency about it–the theme of each movement seems to jump from Beethoven’s mind directly. It completely lacks the long slow development of theme found in the Ninth Symphony. Indeed, that makes me think of it more in the strict classical tradition of Mozart’s symphony. Maybe it was Beethoven’s last demonstration of his mastery of that style before launching off in the convention-shattering direction of his later works.

 Berstein discusses it  in this little clip:
We know from an anecdote reported by his pupil Czerny that Beethoven probably resented it being referred to as lightweight. When Czerny asked Beethoven why it was less popular than the Seventh Symphony, Beethoven replied:  “because the Eighth is so much better.”

Buy CD or Download MP3s of Beethoven: Symphony No. 8


About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

2 Responses to Ludwig Van Beethoven Symphony Number 8 in F

  1. Hi Kurt, nice post, thanks. here’s a link to my relatively short post on all nine symphonies (!) for interest. It was so interesting to run through all nine, not having listened to some of them for a while. I agree with you that the eighth can be a bit of an underserved poor relation.


    • kurtnemes says:

      Thanks. I should listen to them all in one day. It’s funny. I discovered each at a different time and listened to every one exclusively for a period. I used to be able to whistle long passages of the 7th and memorized the words in German to Ode to Joy. They’re like old friends.


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