Updated September 10, 2022

Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven

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Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven essay
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My review is on Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven conducted by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Riccardo Muti conducting, featuring the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Duain Wolfe, and Director. Riccardo Muti is an Italian conductor who is known for his charismatic and brilliant performances of both concert and operatic repertoire. Duain Wolfe is an American choral conductor. The chorus featured Camilla Alylund, Soprano, Ekarerina Gubanova Mezzo soprani, Matthew Polenzani Tenor, and Eric Owens Bass-baritone. This was an online program that was presented on May 7, 2015, which was the 191st anniversary of Beethoven’s first presentation. This symphony is made up of 4 movements and is considered as his masterpiece. I watched the performance on April 12, at 8 pm.

The performance was presented in the Orchestra Hall at Chicago Symphony Center. There was a full audience present. I cannot relate as to the theater acoustics, but the sound recording was, to me, excellent. I could hear each of the orchestra sections very clearly, and when there was featured section of the orchestra the remaining sections were subdued yet clearly present, and during the fourth movement the orchestra and the choral group seemed to me to be in excellent balance.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Germany in 1770 and he died at the age of 57 in March of 1827. He was a pianist as well as a composer and is considered to be one of the most admired composers in the history of western music. During his classical years, 1802 to 1812, he suffered from increasing deafness, yet between 1822 and 1824 this was the time he composed Symphony No. 9. Beethoven never was able to hear this piece.

“Recently, our attention has been drawn to the symphonies by other composers in Vienna in Beethoven’s time, in a useful book by David Wyn Jones.’ Closer study of the contemporaries must be carried out in the light of the social and cultural developments in Austria and Europe in the period of upheaval from 1790 to 1830, in which massive change was taking place as the Napoleonic wars were fought and won, and as the industrial revolution began to shape both economic and political life in new ways. Beethoven’s had a close relationship to the Archduke Rudolph, the royal prince of Austria.

The four movements are referred to as Allegro ma non troppo, Molto vivace; Adagio molto e cantabile – Andante moderato; and the finale: Ode to Joy. The full symphony is made up of two large movements in the beginning and at the end, with the two lighter movements in the middle.8

The first movement is referred to as Allegro ma non troppo, begins softly with the strings and woodwinds and quickly builds and brings in the full orchestra in a loud and crisp introduction. This cycle continues through the movement and includes both smooth and crisp transition within the movement. I feel there is a higher complexity to this movement than the second and the third

The second movement is referred to as Molto vivace and is a fast and lively part of the symphony. This movement features the string and woodwinds throughout, with the tympani joining in prior to the full orchestra. Even with the full orchestra the strings and the woodwinds are fully present during this piece. I did enjoy the full symphony, and I feel this movement is my overall favorite of the four.

The third movement is referred to as Adagio molto e cantabilean and begins quietly and slowly with the strings and the woodwinds alternating the lead. The addition of the French horns later in the movement adds a deeper tone to the melody. This movement is very peaceful even with the addition of the brass instruments providing robustness to the end of the movement.

The fourth movement, referred to as the finale: Ode to Joy begins with the full orchestra and features several of the instruments groups before the full orchestra crisply transitions to support solo and choral part of the symphony.

Ode to Joy: Symphony No. 9 is Beethoven’s ninth and final symphony, completed in 1824, remains the illustrious composer’s most towering achievement. The symphony’s famous choral finale, with four vocal soloists and a chorus singing the words of Friedrich Schiller’s poem ‘Ode to Joy,’ is perhaps the most famous piece of music in history.

While connoisseurs delighted in the symphony’s contrapuntal and formal complexity, the masses found inspiration in the anthem-like vigor of the choral finale and the concluding invocation of ‘all humanity.’


  1. Beethoven 9 – Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Riccardo Muti, Youtube online May 7, 2015,
  2. “Duain Wolfe: Biographies.” Biographies | National Arts Centre. Accessed April 17, 2020. https://nac-cna.ca/en/bio/duain-wolfe.
  3. Lockwood, Lewis. 2007. “Reappraising Beethoven Biography.” Yearbook of Comparative & General Literature 53 (January): 83–99. http://0-search.ebscohost.com.libcat.sanjac.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=35865859&site=ehost-live.
  4. Ludwig van Beethoven Biography (c. 1770 – 1827), Up dated : Augu 29, 2019, Original Apr 27, 2017, https://www.biogaphy.com/musician/ludwig-van-beethoven
  5. “Riccardo Muti Music Official Website.” Riccardo Muti, December 4, 2019. https://www.riccardomuti.com/en/.
  6. Due to the coronavirus I had to cancel my concert visit and chose to view and report on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s presentation of Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven. Unable to provide a copy of the program here is a copy of the youtube event.

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What is Beethoven's 9th symphony called?
19. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and the 'Ode to Joy' Symphony No. 9 is often nicknamed the 'choral' symphony , but it's only the finale that features a choir.
What is Beethoven's most famous song?
Beethoven's Top 10 Works Fidelio. "Fidelio is very important for the history of German opera, adding a political component to the well-worn Rescue Opera plot device while affirming the archetype of the Heroic German Woman. Piano Sonata No. 14 ("Moonlight") Violin Concerto. Piano Sonata No. Piano Concerto No.
What is so special about Beethoven's 9th symphony?
It is the first symphony to incorporate vocal soloists and chorus into what, until then, had been a purely instrumental genre . Words are sung in the final movement by four vocal soloists and a chorus.
What was Symphony No 9 performed for?
The Symphony No. It was first performed in Vienna on 7 May 1824. The symphony is regarded by many critics and musicologists as Beethoven's greatest work and one of the supreme achievements in the history of music. Symphony No. 9 Conductor Michael Umlauf and Ludwig van Beethoven 16 more rows
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