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Analysis of the 4th Movement of Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony

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Introduction

Nicole Paulet Piedra Music SL - Y code BEETHOVEN'S PASTORAL SYMPHONY Fourth Movement, Lightning and Thunderstorm: Allegro The definition of music as we know today would not have been the same without the exceptional composer Ludwig Van Beethoven (Vienna, 1712-1827). He marked the Classical period with his innovative exploration of the human soul capable of transforming his passion into pieces, taking the power of music to a different level. One of his most dramatic works is the Pastoral Symphony (1806), whose fourth movement "Lightning and Thunderstorm: Allegro" perfectly illustrates Beethoven's mastery in the concept of impressionism. In this essay, I will analyze the musical features he uses and the images he creates in this movement to represent the sequential events during a thunderstorm. Bar 1-18 The piece starts with the violoncello and the contrabass introducing the turbulence of a thunderstorm through sustained tremolo notes in piano dynamics. ...read more.

Middle

The minor tremolos in the strings create a sense of desperation and approximation of the big thunderstorm that begins with an outstanding and abrupt dynamics change, from a pianissimo to fortissimo in full orchestra. The wind and the rain happen at the same time, while the bass keeps building up the tension, predicting the proximity of something even bigger. The woodwinds, the horn, trumpet and timpani increase the sense of urgency with the second violins, which continue the tremolo as a representation of the lack of tranquility in nature. The strain is intensified by the dissonance in the winds and the strings. The fortissisimo staccato notes in the woodwinds and motifs in parallel motion between the strings and the bassoon create the image of thunder and lightning. The dynamic change to pianissimo releases some tension from the woodwinds; however the suspense is maintained in the contrabass and violoncello through the recurrent parallel motifs and tremolo notes. ...read more.

Conclusion

At this point, nature is claiming some harmony and serenity. Hence, the strings solve the tension and tonal resolution occurs, as the storm comes to its end. Some last lightning motifs and dissonance finally disappear, as the strings modulate several times until getting to a major key. There is a diminuendo that creates a new atmosphere. As the coda brings the whole piece to an end, now in C major, the storm is completely away. The oboe and the flute close the piece representing the birds singing. The power of this composition confirms Beethoven's genius and mastery. It was able to move my emotions and provoke a reaction I had never felt. The sequence of the piece was like an open book, whose images I could endlessly follow. The flow of energy captured more than my 5 senses, it impacted deep into my soul. I must recall the Beethoven was a genius, and his genius changed my own definition of music. ...read more.

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