Classical Music Library Free Download of the Week

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Every two weeks, Alexander Street offers a free music download from our popular online music collection. This download is freely available, regardless of whether or not your library subscribes to the collection.

Symphony No. 1 by Ludwig Van Beethoven

A titan among symphonic composers, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) wrote his first symphony at the close of the eighteenth century. By that time he had written numerous instrumental works, most for piano, an instrument that he had played since childhood. He then completed a new symphony almost every year, finishing his eighth in 1812, but another twelve years would lapse until his monumental ninth symphony premiered in 1824.

Beethoven is known as a composer who straddled the classical and romantic eras of music, with his earlier compositions more inclined towards earlier classical conventions. His first symphony is one such classical example, and bears similarities to the symphonies of the composers Haydn and Mozart. The first movement begins with a conventionalslow introduction, but is unusual in that Beethoven avoids the tonic key (C major, as often the name describes), and tricks the listener into thinking the symphony is in another key for some time. After the introduction, the movement continues in sonata form, also the standard form for a first movement of a symphony at the time. It is followed by the characteristic slow second movement, a rather spirited menuetto as a third movement, and a spirited finale again in sonata form.

This recording is performed by the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine under the direction of Alain Lombard.

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