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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Music History
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  • Beethoven brought the symphony to dizzying new heights
  • Symphony No. 9 thought to be pinnacle of symphony writing
  • Includes a choir, new harmonies, rhythms, forms, and programmatic themes
  • Mahler then wrote a Symphony for 1000, and Berlioz wrote a 5-movement work (Symphony Fantastique) to try to rival Beethoven
  • Curse of the 9th!!


Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  1. Intro
    • Que Romantica!
    • Symphony Characteristics
    • Symphony 9 (1823): 'Ode to Joy'
    • Romantic Composers
    • Review
    • Intro 0:00
    • Que Romantica! 0:13
      • The Romantic Symphony Started Around Beethoven's 5th
      • Symphony Criticized for Lacking Emotion and Meaning
      • Opposite is True in Romantic
      • Instrumental Music Closer to Pure Emotion Because No Text
      • Every Composer Had to Compose a Symphony as a Rite of Passage
    • Symphony Characteristics 2:28
      • Stayed Remarkably Intact Into the 20th Century
      • 3, 4, or 5 Movements
      • Movement 1: An Extended Opening Movement in Sonata Form
      • Movement 2: A Lyrical Slow Movement In Sonata Form, ABA, or Theme and Variations
      • Movement 3: A Dance-Inspired Scherzo Movement, Usually in Triple Meter
      • Movement 4: A Fast Finale
      • Beethoven's Heroic Decade
      • Heiligenstadt Testament: Letter to Brother
      • Beethoven Saw Art as Redemption
      • Then Came the 9th
    • Symphony 9 (1823): 'Ode to Joy' 5:28
      • Redefined the Symphony as More Than a Musical Entertainment
      • Curse of the 9th
      • First Symphony to Have a Chorus
      • Listening to 'Ode to Joy'
      • Completely Unified Themes Throughout Movements
      • Monumental Themes
      • Created a Crisis for Future Generations
      • First Time that New Composers were Competing with the Past
    • Romantic Composers 9:13
      • Mendelssohn Threw Away 3 Complete Symphonies
      • Schubert Got Sick and Died Writing His 9th
      • Brahms was Anti-Program, Reinvented In Other Ways
      • Berlioz First Real Competitor
      • Mahler Wrote a Symphony for 1000 People
      • Wagner said Beethoven's 9th was the Pinnacle
      • One Reason for Rise of Symphonic Poem
    • Review 11:52
      • Beethoven Ruled the Symphony
      • Beethoven's Symphonies are Still the Models Composers Aspire to Achieve
      • Innovative Harmonies, Monumental Orchestration, Grandiose Form, Fully-Unified Theme
      • Debate Loomed Between Absolute and Program Music
      • Enter the Symphonic Poem for Something Completely Different