Beethoven -- Symphony No. 6 in F major -- 1808 --
Beethoven looks like he's ready to shoot laser beams out of his eyes in this picture. He wants to set the world on fire with romance and passion. Not the kind of romance and passion between lovers. We're talking about Romance and Passion. We're talking about fraternity, liberty, and human freedom. Ideals with a capital I. Big ones. There's a lot of love in Beethoven's music. He loved the world, and believed mankind could perfect it.
Unfortunately for Beethoven, most people are complete idiots. He was often disappointed. He was appalled by the conduct of his friends, his enemies, the clergy, the aristocracy, and humanity in general. As the years passed Beethoven turned into a bit of a grouch: cranky, angry, cantankerous, ornery, vindictive, and mean. Then his lost his hearing and he got really mad.
You can see Beethoven's anger in the score above. Its almost as if he were trying to punish the paper for its inability to express whatever Beethoven heard perfectly in his head. Whatever paper he used to write his sixth symphony though, must have been pretty sweet, because Beethoven's Sixth is about as perfect as it gets.
Like a lot of angry perfectionists, Beethoven's mind found a happy place in nature. The sixth symphony is Beethoven walking through a wood on a fine spring morning. Maybe his laser beam eyes relaxed a little bit that morning and he simply enjoyed being alive for a while. Just a man strolling through a wood. That's how I hear this symphony.
Watch out for the thunderstorm in the fourth movement.
(The iTunes link at the top of the post will take you the London Symphony Orchestra's Complete Beethoven Symphonies. All nine Beethoven Symphonies for $9.99)