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To those of you not au fait with Beethoven's oeuvre, this is the one with the "Da da da daa" bit (three short notes followed by one long one). These four notes are then repeated lower in the scale, providing a great example of what music scholars call "relational processing," which means that even though the second set of four notes are completely different, we still recognize the pattern, which in this case is one of the most famous sets of notes in all of music. Beethoven's friend and secretary Schindler described the symphony's opening as "death knocking upon the door."
During World War II, the famous opening bars' suggestion of Morse Code became the powerful symbol of "V For Victory," the effective call-sign for the Allied Forces. Many relished the irony of a German's music galvanizing the Allied effort to defeat the Nazi war machine.
The symphony was drastically under-rehearsed at its premiere in Vienna, but its explosive statements still hit the audience like a thunderbolt. However Beethoven was criticized for the large orchestra required for this piece.
While it is commonly stated that the last movement of this piece is the first time the trombone and the piccolo were used in a concert symphony, it is not true. A year previously, the Swedish composer Joachim Nicolas Eggert specified trombones for his Symphony in E-flat major.
In 1976 Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band had an American #1 with a disco version
of the symphony's first movement. ELO's elaborate eight-minute reworking of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven
," included an opening musical quote and interpolations of material from this symphony.
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