Album 7: Beethoven (1770 - 1827)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is one of the most famous composers in the history of Classical Music, and also one of the greatest. Nowadays, Beethoven's music is often categorised into "early period", "middle period" and "late period". His late period compositions, including Symphony No.9 "Choral", are full of genius but often complex.

Easier to get into are compositions from the middle period. His Violin concerto in D (Op.61) and Piano concerto No.5 in E-flat 'Emperor' (Op.73) are both masterpieces and among the most popular among their respective form. His middle symphonies, including Symphony No.3 'Eroica' and Symphony No.6 'Pastoral' are equally well known - the former being regarded as a landmark in the transition between Classical period and Romantic period, and the latter the best example of "programme music" (in contrast to "absolute music" where there is no reference to the outside world.)

But even more well-known still is his Symphony No.5, not least for its four-note "short-short-short-long" opening. Not only are these starting notes striking, they also form a motif that is repeated throughout the whole symphony. This motif is sometimes referred to as "fate motif", representing fate knocking at the door.

The second piece I chose for this collection is one of his piano sonatas. There are so many to choose from, and many are still in the standard repertoire of what a piano student needs to learn. My favourite, though, is No.23 in F minor 'Appassionata' (Op.57) - meaning "passionate".

Album 07: Beethoven Piano Sonata No.23 'Appassionata' (Daniel Barenboim); Symphony No.5 (Carlos Kleiber + Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra)