Spotlight on Beethoven’s 6th: Pastoral Symphony

Boys: you know that feeling when a video game you’ve been wanting for FOREVER is finally out at the store?

Or girls: that feeling when a (pick a hunky actor/Hemsworth brother) movie you’re dying to see is FINALLY coming out this weekend because it seems like you’ve been seeing trailers for it for YEARS?

Well, that’s the feeling I get when I have an opportunity to attend a live performance of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony – the Pastoral. Yes – I am a music nerd!!

The Maestro!

The Maestro!

Last year, this opportunity presented itself when the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performed Beethoven’s Pastoral as one of their season concerts. I was so excited I could barely contain myself. I dragged my entire family to go listen with me. And it was magnificent (at least, for me it was!). Beethoven loved being in the countryside, and we are so fortunate that he chose to dedicate an entire musical work to describing some of what he loved most about that landscape.

I love that this is one of Beethoven’s only symphonies that he wrote with a specific story line in mind. I love that there are so many beautiful, very visual themes in this work. And I love the feelings of joy and serenity that the music makes me feel when I listen to it. If you get a chance to attend a live performance of this work, I highly recommend it.

The link below to Wikipedia contains a description of each of the five movements in Beethoven’s Pastoral, as well as some general history. Read through these descriptions before you listen to the Symphony so you have a better understanding of the musical scenes that Beethoven is describing in each movement. Then listen to the Pastoral and see if you can follow along with the Wiki descriptions.

Wikipedia article about 6th Symphony, with movement descriptions

YouTube video performance of 6th Symphony, conducted by one of my favorite conductors, Paavo Järvi (this is one of the selections in my Classical Era playlist for March)

Recording information

If you’re interested in purchasing a recording of this performance…

Were you able to hear the story that Beethoven is telling about country life? Isn’t it happy and beautiful? :) Let me know what you think!


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