Pastoral Symphony

Album: Beethoven: Pastoral Symphony (1808)

Songfacts®:

  • Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 in F major, also known as the Pastoral Symphony, was completed in 1808. This hymn to nature was labeled at its first performance with the title "Recollections of Country Life."
  • Beethoven was a lover of nature who spent a great deal of his time on walks in the country. He frequently left Vienna to work in rural locales. Unusually cast in five movements, the last three of which flow freely into one another, this symphony represents Beethoven's ultimate response to nature. According to Beethoven the work is "more an expression of feeling than painting in sound."
  • The descriptive titles by which we know its five movements were added later. They are: The Awakening of Joyful Feelings Upon Arrival in the Country, The Brook, Village Festival, The Storm and The Shepherd's Thanksgiving.
  • The Pastoral Symphony was composed simultaneously with Beethoven's more famous Fifth Symphony. The two works were premiered together in a long and somewhat under-rehearsed concert in the unheated Theater an der Wien in Vienna, on December 22, 1808. There was an underwhelming critical response to the premiere performance, but eventually the work became one of the central works of the symphonic repertoire.

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