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MUSIC: Beethoven's Symphony No. 5
Fate knocking at the door. V for victory.
The most famous sequence of notes in the whole of music...
..from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
In this series, we'll discover how the symphony emerged
from the world of aristocratic privilege.
How it accompanied the rise of nations and the fall of empires.
How it became a symbol of freedom and a tool of totalitarianism.
How the symphony taught the orchestra how to speak.
MUSIC: Beethoven's Symphony No. 40: First Movement
And how it established itself as the ultimate expression of the composer as an artist.
MUSIC: Berlioz's Symphonie: Fantastique March Of The Scaffold, 4th Movement
It's an epic journey that takes us from bands of musicians playing in the palaces of princes
to orchestras of well over 100 performing in vast concert halls.
MUSIC: Beethoven's Symphony No. 9: 4th Movement
But how, ultimately, alongside these public statements
it became the vehicle for the most profound expression of private thoughts and emotions
that we, the audience, can understand and relate to today.
MUSIC: Beethoven's Symphony No. 3: Eroica, Fourth Movement
Above all, it's the story of great composers.
In this first episode we'll meet Ludwig van Beethoven,
the epitome of the great composer, the artist as hero.
I think he felt that he had an heroic capacity as a creator
to take music to a place that nobody thought it could ever go.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,
the genius who wrote his first symphony at the age of eight...
..and Joseph Haydn, the giant of 18th century music
who was dubbed the Father of the Symphony.
It's New Year's Day 1791.
The Austrian composer Joseph Haydn, 58 years old, in rude health,
is sailing from Calais to Dover.
It's a voyage that will take a full ten hours.
He'd left home a month earlier.
This is his first trip beyond the borders of his home
in a small corner of the vast Austro-Hungarian empire.
Leaving the security of three decades of service
as a musician for the aristocratic Esterhazy family,
he's jolted over 800 miles in a horse-drawn coach,
bad weather, bad roads, probably bad food,
and across Europe, the rumblings from the aftermath of the French Revolution are still being heard.
Haydn was, as ever, pragmatic, but he was also very excited.
"I remained on deck," he said,
"so as to gaze my fill of that mighty monster, the ocean.
"Then when the highest waves were whipped up by the wind, I became a little frightened,
"but I overcame it all and arrived on shore without, excuse me, vomiting."
MUSIC: Haydn's Symphony No. 104: London, 4th Movement
He's come with a large trunk of scores but, unfortunately, during the chaos of the luggage transfer,
he's lost one vital symphonic manuscript.
But this epic journey was nearly over.
In just two days' time, he'd be welcomed into London,
more than welcomed.
He'd be received as the first ever bona-fide musical superstar.
His first six months will be non-stop,
contracted to deliver six symphonies and already missing one score,
but Haydn is no ordinary composer.
He is the most extraordinary of ordinary men.
And here he is.
Joseph Haydn, painted in the year of his arrival in England in 1791
by the society portraitist John Hoppner
on the orders of King George III himself,
as a sign of the man's celebrity.
Haydn came from a humble background,
but here he holds himself with immense self-assurance.
Is there the sharp light of curiosity in his eyes?
Haydn was always enthusiastic about exploring the world around him.
Today, his name is associated above all with the symphony,
the form he more than anybody in the 18th century worked to develop.
In his hands, the symphony became what the dictionary now defines it as:
a large-scale work, usually in four sections or movements,
and regarded as the most exalted form a composer can use.
And his London symphonies were to bring the works of his genius
to the widest possible audience.
Haydn had this capacity to write music that would speak immediately to all hearers.
What comes out more than anything else
is a sense of a new sound world.
London was the most prosperous and fastest growing city in the world.
By the 1790s, the fashion for opera that had dominated upper class taste
for most of the 18th century was now on the wane and the new middle class,
who felt that they'd earned their wealth rather than inherited it, was keen for something new
that would reflect their sense of themselves as discerning and cultured.
MUSIC: Haydn's Symphony No 95, LPO
Haydn was intensely interested in all aspects of British life.
He visited palaces and naval dockyards.
He was horrified by the levels of public drunkenness he witnessed,
and he kept detailed notes about the people that he met
and the music that they listened to.
He stayed with one short interval for four years.
The invitation had come from the violinist,
composer and concert organiser Johann Peter Salomon,
a German by birth
and a man known to be highly efficient in business matters.
Salomon had assembled the finest musicians in the city,
and hired a recently-opened elegant concert hall
on the corner of Hanover Square in fashionable Mayfair.
The series of concerts the two men would now promote here,
with Haydn as composer and Salomon as orchestra leader,
would position the symphony at the centre of London's rapidly growing social and cultural life.
This site occupies the exact footprint
of the Hanover Square Rooms when Haydn first saw them in 1791.
Salomon had taken a canny commercial gamble with this concert season, but it would more than pay off.
"All the modish world appear fond of nothing else, my dear.
"Folks of fashion eager seek 16 concerts in a week."
And this is the kind of orchestra that you might have found
in the Hanover Rooms in the early 1790s,
and this combination and arrangement of instruments
established a blueprint for the symphonic repertoire for the next 100 years or so.
At the back, we have the woodwind, the brass, the percussion sections.
They were raised on a platform, a novelty in Haydn's time,
no doubt enhanced the visual excitement as well as helped with the balance of sound.
In front, we have the string section, double basses, cellos, violas, violins.
He would divide them into two sections, the seconds and the firsts.
In the front sat the leader, who on this occasion is Maggie,
but for many of Haydn's concerts would have been Salomon himself.
And in the centre was Haydn the composer, leading the operation,
but not conducting in the way we might understand it today.
-These symphonies were designed to be shared by the audience and the players together.
-And to be seen.
To be seen - the drama inherent in,
"How will Mr Haydn treat his orchestra in this? What surprises will we get?"
Symphony 98 is one of the greatest London symphonies.
Actually written in England to replace the one he'd lost crossing the channel,
it contains a typical Haydn surprise.
His take on the British National Anthem.
In the second of four movements, he takes this tune, varies it, transforms it,
and this is the key to the symphony in Haydn's hands.
He takes a musical idea on a journey,
and through the course of that journey, everything changes.
Haydn's sense of playing around is very evident in the 98th Symphony, isn't it?
And he knew how to respond to the occasion too, didn't he?
And his music produced such incredible reactions of joy and delight and surprise.
It's difficult to imagine nowadays, isn't it,
the way audiences always behave very po-faced and quiet.
And anybody who coughs is criticised.
If you liked something in a Haydn symphony,
everybody exclaimed and clapped.
MUSIC: Haydn's Symphony No. 98: 4th Movement
Haydn and Salomon's symphony concerts were an unprecedented success,
but it wasn't long before the composer needed some time to himself.
And this house deep in the Lee Valley in Hertfordshire
was where he stayed for the summer of 1791.
Of all the places Haydn lived and worked during his four-year stay,
this one, Roxford, is the only survivor,
and it was here that he composed Symphony 98.
It was a retreat from the social whirl
that he was very much caught up in London
to a sort of countryside life
that he would have been familiar with from Austria,
back to a place where he could think about people he'd met,
he could think about musical interests of people
and he could write the kind of compositions that they were interested in.
"I work industriously," he wrote to a friend,
and then added with a touch of homesickness,
"Early every morning when I walk alone in the wood with my English grammar,
"I think of my creator and of my family and friends left behind."
Despite his homesickness,
the last movement of Symphony 98 is full of playfulness and joy
with a whole series of startling ideas and effects.
MUSIC: Haydn's Symphony No. 98: 4th Movement
The last movement is very fast and lively -
presto, it's marked, which is as fast as you can get.
It's like a motor rhythm that never wants to stop,
it powers its way forward, and it's just when you're expecting a repeat of the theme,
because you've already heard it, he then takes you by surprise.
And they start again with the theme a bit slower.
But he's got... he's got the ace up his sleeve.
He makes himself play on the forte piano.
A little, very trivial, little sort of inner voice as the violins play the tune for the last time.
And it's so lovely that it would have delighted the audience.
You can imagine, "Oh, tonight," you know,
"the great Doctor Haydn gave us a little virtuoso display on the forte piano."
You almost don't hear it at first, do you? You think oh, my gosh...
Yes, it's like it's inside, isn't it?
It's the sort of haemoglobin of the music, keeping the whole thing alive.
So where did Haydn's genius spring from?
Indeed, where did the symphony itself come from?
I'm going to travel back in time to Haydn's early life and career in rural Austria.
A journey that will allow us to understand the development of the symphony in the 18th century.
He was born not far from the Hungarian border
in the spring of 1732, the second eldest of 17 children.
His father was a wheelwright, and both his parents sang for pleasure.
Sent to a local school, he learned to read and write and to sing.
"They taught me so much," he said,
"although I received more thrashings than food."
Then one day, the school was visited by the choirmaster from Vienna's main cathedral, St Stephens,
and eight-year-old Joseph was auditioned.
So the small, talented boy from the provinces
joined the mighty Stephansdom Choir in Vienna.
We can picture him,
an undistinguished looking little fellow, even at the age of nine wearing a wig.
MUSIC: Poglietti's Ave Reginia Coelorum
When his voice begins to break,
the priest suggests castrating him in order to preserve his beautiful treble.
But luckily for little Joseph, his father intervenes.
Finally, he's dishonourably discharged from the choir
after an incident which sees him cutting off another boy's pigtail.
For the next few years he struggles, hungry to the point of starvation
and tormented by the affluent city life he sees around him.
MUSIC: Haydn's Symphony No. 1: 3rd Movement
Joseph Haydn's life was saved by his talent.
Once his first compositions began to be played around Vienna's salons and beer gardens,
it didn't take long for him to be singled out as someone special,
and by the time he was 25, his hungry years were over.
In the 18th century, artists generally were employed by the Church,
a royal court or a member of the aristocracy.
No king, prince or nobleman worth his salt was without his house band.
And Haydn was fortunate in that he was asked to work for
one of the most noble and wealthiest families in Europe, the Esterhazys.
MUSIC: Haydn's Symphony No. 12: 3rd Movement
The family palace was in the remote location of Eisenstadt in Eastern Austria,
but having his own orchestra gave Haydn exactly what he needed.
As well as being able to fulfil all the normal duties of a composer,
such as church music and opera,
he was able to experiment with new instrumental forms.
He arrived in 1761,
just as Nikolaus I inherited the Esterhazy title.
The new prince was rich, extravagant and, crucially,
his palace had a particularly fine music room.
So here it is, the crucible of Haydn's laboratory.
No, not just the crucible, the Large Hadron Collider.
Over 70 symphonies and 30 years,
Prince Nikolaus was obsessed with music, and in order to feed his veracious appetite,
Haydn needed to find a form that would show off the full range and virtuosity
of the prince's orchestra.
At the beginning, they were only a tiny group of musicians, no more than 14 of them,
and yet Haydn was inspired by both the quality of their playing
and the beauty of the music room to produce extraordinary symphonies.
One of the first is Le Matin. Morning.
It starts with a sunrise that,
in its detailed, tiny way is a little masterpiece in its own right.
MUSIC: Haydn's Symphony No. 6: Le Matin, 1st Movement
In the course of this little masterpiece,
various members of this little ensemble get moments of glory.
It wasn't just the size of Haydn's house band
that was so different from a modern symphony orchestra.
It was the instruments as well.
The early brass and woodwind were primitive and hard to play,
but Haydn's solo writing demonstrates that he could
count on some real virtuosity from his players.
Before Haydn, the symphony certainly existed, but what precisely was it?
The word "symphony" literally means "sounding together", making music.
Its earliest use was to distinguish between vocal church music,
the sound of angels perhaps,
and the music that instrumentalists might play by themselves
as their contribution to a church service.
Earthly music, music that grounds us in the world of the here and now
before the choir claims our souls, imaginations and our ears for God.
MUSIC: Haydn's Symphony No. 22: 1st Movement
Haydn wrote symphonies on demand for a variety of occasions.
One of his greatest early Eisenstadt works is a church symphony,
No. 22, written to be performed during Mass.
It later acquired the nickname of The Philosopher,
possibly because its first movement is exceptionally solemn,
demonstrating the emotional depths of which the symphony was going to be capable in Haydn's hands.
The form of early symphonies came from the opera house originally,
when the instrumental movements at the beginning of an evening
constituted a suite not designed to be an artistic whole,
but a way to lead the audience in to the entertainment.
Now, from those beginnings,
Haydn realised that he could extend the contrasts
into making a four movement package.
Very often, this could be fast, then a long, slow movement
that gave a sense of gravitas to the whole event.
Then a dancing minuet to sort of clear the air,
and then a final fast movement.
The Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt truly was Haydn's laboratory.
The symphony as he developed it draws from a combination of church music, the world of opera
and having talented musicians to write for.
With all these factors in place,
he was able to perfect the four movement symphony.
And beyond that he experimented with other elements,
the unexpected juxtaposition of mood, unusual instrumentation,
theatrical effects, surprises, jokes.
The symphony became a finely wrought interplay of forces,
each one a unique and enthralling journey.
As a symphonist, Haydn is in many ways like a master chef
who combines different ingredients to create new dishes.
In his kitchen garden in Eisenstadt,
he planted out his own selection of herbs, and here I met Sigrid Weiss,
who is an expert on Baroque cookery.
How lovely to meet you. This is gorgeous.
-Let me walk you around a little.
-So what do we have here?
Here we have thyme...
'The lean and hungry years of his youth gave Haydn an obsession with food.
'In his letters, he's always either praising or complaining about his diet.'
They liked to use these strong smelling herbs on the meat in the Baroque,
because of course they had no refrigerators so their meat was not always as fresh.
'Haydn the gardener and Haydn the gourmet
'are all part of the complete picture of Haydn the master craftsman.'
-And this one?
-Can we eat it?
'We could liken symphonic development in one of Haydn's opening movements
'to the preparation of a carefully balanced meal
'of the sort which the composer often enjoyed.'
-Oh, it's lovely.
-It's like lemon.
All the themes are gathered together at the beginning of the piece
in the same way one might gather and prepare ingredients then cook a simple starter.
This is what's called the exposition,
a tasty first course that whets your appetite for what's to come.
Thank you very much.
The next stage, the development,
blends together, reshapes and cooks up all these ingredients, allowing new flavours to emerge.
Finally, in the recapitulation, all the themes and harmonies are brought together and resolved,
just like the finished main course.
This is one of Haydn's particular favourites - braised rabbit with dumplings and cherries.
-That looks totally delicious.
In the 1760s, Prince Nikolaus decided to build an elaborate new pleasure palace
50 kilometres east from Eisenstadt, over the Hungarian border.
So every summer the entire court, including Haydn and his orchestra,
decamped to the fairytale palace of Esterhaza.
However, although there were music rooms, ball rooms,
banqueting pavilions and a full scale opera house,
there was only very limited accommodation for the many musicians.
Families had to stay in Eisenstadt.
No wives, no girlfriends, no families.
The musicians were understandably miserable.
But Haydn came up with his own rather witty version of industrial action.
MUSIC: Haydn's Symphony No. 45: 4th Movement, The English Concert
Symphony 45 was one of the three dozen symphonies
written for the summer festivities at Esterhaza.
It's a serious, sometimes stormy work,
but at the end comes Haydn's protest,
a gesture that gives the work its familiar nickname, The Farewell.
As the last restless movement comes to a close,
the music suddenly slows down
and the players begin to leave the stage, one by one,
each snuffing out the candle on his music stand as he goes.
Finally, there are just two violins left playing pianissimo,
and the music evaporates into silence.
The prince took the hint.
The following day, the court returned home to the domestic comforts of Eisenstadt.
Haydn was to stay in Esterhazy for nearly 30 years,
but this was very unusual.
Most composers of the time led a much more nomadic existence,
moving from place to place,
and this was of course how musical ideas were moved around.
One of these travelling musicians was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,
and in 1764, not long after Haydn had arrived in Eisenstadt, he visited London.
MUSIC: Mozart's Symphony No. 1: 1st Movement
Mozart spent a large part of his childhood on an interminable tour of Europe
accompanied by his father and his older sister.
The family arrived here in London and moved into lodgings above a barber's shop,
which now, delightfully, is an antiquarian booksellers specialising in music.
The whole thing must have been a bit of an ordeal.
There were reports of all three of them being ill at one time or another.
But it did produce at least one unexpected benefit.
Whilst his father was bedridden, the eight-year-old Wolfgang decided to write his first symphony.
Now remember, he was eight.
This symphony has been criticised as being derivative,
and some have said it was written by his father,
and I'm sure his father helped him a great deal.
But the important point, surely, is that it's a symphony
written by an eight-year-old, and it's structurally perfect,
exquisitely balanced and very, very nice to listen to.
In his teens, Mozart criss-crossed Europe,
picking up ideas wherever he went.
One of the key centres was Mannheim in South West Germany,
where the court orchestra was a finely tuned, virtuoso ensemble.
The court composer was Johann Stamitz,
who wrote 60 proto-type symphonies for them.
They became well known for their novel, dynamic effects,
an opening coups d'archet,
a loud bang at the beginning of a piece of music
that would wake the audience up and grab their attention.
The Mannheim Rocket,
a cluster of notes that soared thrillingly heavenwards,
and a big orchestral crescendo that was so unexpected
that apparently ladies in the audience used to faint with excitement.
In preparing the music with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment,
Mark Elder was keen to work on some of the effects achieved by these symphonic pioneers.
Obviously what we've got to try and show in this,
this very exciting music, is the style.
And they were specialists in a sort of bravura attack. Here it is.
And the coups d'archet was the way everybody attacked
the bow in the same way, as they all did there.
Can we just try that once again?
Bravo, well done.
The idea of getting louder
from playing very soft and going to very loud is something we're all so familiar with.
We do it all the time. But the idea that this was a new way of musicians together
expressing the same energy and the same emotion gave the music a new excitement and a new daring.
So celebrated did Mannheim become that in 1777,
the 22-year-old Wolfgang Mozart visited the orchestra,
bringing with him the score of his latest symphony.
When Mozart decided to premiere this symphony, his 31st,
with them in this very room, he was test-driving his work,
which included several of the crowd-pleasing
Mannheim special effects.
At this stage in his life Mozart really needed a success.
In Paris there were many wealthy, sophisticated music lovers
and his carefully crafted symphony
might land him a commission or even a job.
Paris in the middle of the 18th century
was very different from the modern city.
The Eiffel Tower and the famous boulevards
weren't built until the 19th century.
And in 1778, when Mozart arrived,
the area around here was dominated
by a vast Renaissance palace, the Tuileries,
where the fashionable and cultured aristocracy -
this was before the Revolution, remember - flocked to hear music.
Mozart's symphony, later to become known as the Paris Symphony,
was first heard here in June 1778.
Every detail was honed to accord with contemporary Parisian taste.
"In the middle of the first movement
"is a section I knew would excite them," he later wrote to his father.
Sure enough, the audience was carried away by it.
"Since I knew when I wrote it that it would have this sort of effect,
"I used it again at the end."
The symphony was a mild success.
Perhaps he'd so conformed to local taste
that the work didn't particularly stand out.
After the concert, he wrote, "I was happy,
"so as soon as the concert was over I rushed over to the Palais-Royal,
"ordered myself a large ice cream, said my rosary and went home."
Mozart wasn't the only symphonist keen to conquer
the discerning audiences of Paris.
Five years later, half a dozen new symphonies by Joseph Haydn
arrived to great acclaim.
Although Prince Esterhazy didn't allow his composer to travel,
he was happy for Haydn's scores to spread his fame.
And when Mozart, now living in Vienna,
heard these Paris Symphonies,
they were to inspire his final great symphonic outpouring.
In 1788, a year before revolution convulsed France, and indeed Europe,
Mozart preformed here in this Viennese cafe,
but perhaps more significantly
he also wrote three symphonies in a matter of weeks -
the noble No. 39,
the dark, turbulent No. 40, unusually in a minor key,
and the extrovert No. 41,
later nicknamed The Jupiter,
a piece of almost extravagant technical virtuosity.
Mozart's final years are something of a mystery.
We have lots of small details,
how frequently he changed apartment, for instance,
but about the bigger picture there's nothing at all.
What he thought about the music he was writing,
his ambitions, his hopes and his fears,
and about the last few symphonies, no information.
These symphonies were completed
three years before his sudden and tragic early death.
But we have no idea what occasioned them
and there is no record of them ever having been actually performed in his lifetime.
These last symphonies are emotionally rich
and full of sadness, just when you least expect it.
The palate of emotional intensity
is very, very marked.
And one feels that,
whether or not he could have written any more symphonies, that these were
a summation for him of what he could achieve in the form.
And each of them has such a different character.
Now, to me, the character comes from the choice of key.
And we know, before he wrote them, that he received a new score
of three of Haydn's symphonies
and that they were in these same three keys -
E flat, G minor and C major - which are the keys of Mozart's last three symphonies.
He was inspired and wanted to give something
to the form that he hadn't hitherto managed.
Mozart clearly admired the symphonic innovations
that Haydn had discovered in his laboratory in Eisenstadt,
and when the two composers met for the first time in the late 1780s,
Haydn repaid the compliment.
"Some have said that I might have some genius," he remarked,
"but Mozart is always my superior."
Suddenly in 1790 everything changed.
Prince Nikolaus died unexpectedly and the next prince, his son Anton,
immediately began to dismantle
his father's extravagant and expensive musical establishment.
Despite a generous pension,
Haydn must have wondered what the future would bring.
And then one night as he was sitting at home,
there was a loud knock on the front door.
A stranger was let in and declared boldly,
"I am Salomon of London and I have come to fetch you."
It was a decisive moment in Haydn's life
and in the history of the symphony.
Just before setting off on his epic journey,
Haydn joined Salomon and Mozart for a farewell meal.
Salomon was keen to sign Wolfgang up for a British tour,
but the young composer seemed more concerned about his colleague's welfare.
"You're not young any more," he said.
"But I'm still in good health," Haydn replied.
"You're too unworldly and speak too few languages," Mozart said.
"No," Haydn replied firmly, "my language is understood all over the world."
And now we're back where we started
in the last decade of the 18th century
with Haydn's triumphal arrival in London.
After 30 years as a sort of musical servant in Austria,
he's welcomed here as the greatest composer of his age.
As the Sun newspaper of 1794 put it,
"His music is exquisite, rich, fanciful, bold and impressive."
London gave Joseph Haydn a new lease of life.
Four years of wildly successful concerts,
twelve new symphonies premiered, the last in 1795
here at the Theatre Royal Music Rooms in the Haymarket.
As one enamoured critic gushed,
"Would Haydn ever get to the bottom of his genius box?"
Well, the answer to that surely must be no.
Although he would write over 100 symphonies
over the course of a long working life,
Haydn himself would have recognised neither
the dizzying upward spiral of numbers -
from his first Symphony in D Major written in 1759
to his 104th written some 40 years later -
nor the affectionate nicknames that some of the pieces acquired -
The Philosopher, The Farewell, The Surprise, The Military.
For the first time in his life,
Haydn had escaped the aristocratic bubble of Eisenstadt.
The London symphonies reflect both his new experiences of the world
and his encounters with a wider audience.
In London there was hunger for music that spoke to
the tensions around the French Revolution
and the anxieties that the British had
when revolution turned into attack on other countries.
Now symphonies were not only being played in public,
but becoming public statements in themselves.
The Military Symphony, the eighth of the London symphonies,
written in 1794 and a masterpiece.
It was Haydn's greatest success during his visit to England.
It's war music that the audience regarded as acutely topical.
It's difficult with our modern ears
to grasp the impact this work had on the British public.
Amongst other things, Haydn shocked them
with his use for the first time of Turkish percussion.
"Encore, encore, encore," resounded from every seat,
the ladies themselves could not forbear.
It is the advance into battle and the march of men.
The sounding of the charge, the thundering of the onset.
The clash of arms, the groans of the wounded
and what may be called the hellish roar of war
increases to a climax of horrid sublimity.
Haydn writing for London audiences
in the 1790s was very much aware
that they saw themselves as a manly, military society
and Haydn absolutely captured that.
When Haydn left London to return home to Austria
he made a brief stop along the way
in the provincial German town of Bonn.
Here he was to meet for the first time the composer
who would carry the symphony forward into the next century -
Ludwig van Beethoven.
Haydn was 60 and the sullen young viola player -
he was a member of the Elector Of Bonn's Orchestra - was 22.
He was already showing some promise as a composer.
He'd written two attention-grabbing Imperial Cantatas
and Haydn agreed to take him on as a student.
It was never an easy relationship.
"You will have thoughts that no-one has had before," said Haydn,
"but the rules will always be sacrificed to your moods."
England had changed Haydn. Mozart had died whilst he was away
and he returned to Austria an old man.
Papa Haydn they now started calling him.
He left behind him the court at Esterhazy and came to Vienna
to take up his rightful place as a senior member of Viennese society.
And significantly he stopped writing symphonies
but he had by no means retired.
Before he left London, Salomon had given him a manuscript,
an anonymous libretto in English based partly on the Book Of Genesis
and partly on Milton's poem Paradise Lost.
The result was The Creation,
a large, complex, elegant work
that brought together the very best of Haydn's symphonic technique
with his love of writing for voices.
It was to prove both popular and influential.
This vast, ambitious, cosmic work, although not itself a symphony,
opens up a myriad of possibilities for orchestral music.
On the threshold of the new century,
Haydn demonstrated that music could be
more than entertainment at a polite social gathering
and become a profound and thought-provoking
dramatic experience for its audience.
The last performance Haydn attended
was here in a room at the Austrian Academy of Sciences
on 27th March, 1808, a year before he died.
It was his 76th birthday
and the aged and ill composer was brought in to loud acclamation.
His former pupil Beethoven was also here and apparently wept during the performance.
At the point early on in the piece,
when God creates light, the audience burst out into spontaneous applause.
But Haydn, in response, indicated upwards, as if to say, "Not from me."
"Everything comes from up there."
He became known as the father of the symphony, ie, not necessarily the first,
but the person who gave us so many great symphonies
that he managed to explore the potential of the symphonic orchestra of his day.
And that would take the idea of what a symphony could be
further and further along the path.
Haydn, over the course of a long 40-year career, turned out over 100.
Mozart, in his short life, wrote about 40.
Ludwig Van Beethoven wrote only nine.
But each symphony redrew the musical landscape
and threw down a challenge that no future symphonist could possibly ignore.
In 1800, as Europe stood on the threshold of a new century,
the Viennese public were treated to the premiere of a new work -
Beethoven's first symphony in C Major,
which, much to their surprise, began with a discord.
MUSIC: Symphony No 1: 1st Movement by Beethoven
At this point, the symphony was seen primarily as a means of entertainment,
not as the vehicle for the exploration of political, social and moral ideas.
In 1790, the philosopher Kant dismissed instrumental music as more pleasure than culture.
His grounds for this remark were the fact that music couldn't incorporate concepts.
Any ideas it might seem to generate were in his words "accidents".
If you say to me,
"Sum up what makes Beethoven different in one sentence."
He broke the rules.
This is pure Beethoven, but it is a youthful Beethoven.
But, having said that, he did not complete his first symphony
until he was 29 years of age.
Now, in prodigy terms, that's middle-aged.
Haydn and Mozart had knocked off loads of symphonies by the time they were 29.
Why did Beethoven wait so long? Because he was aware of the legacy of the likes of Mozart and Haydn.
If the first symphony represents a noble and steady start,
then the second is a sudden wrench forwards into the future.
MUSIC: # Symphony No 2, Scherzo from the 3rd Movement by Beethoven
Premiered in the year that Britain declared war on France
it has at its heart the 31-year-old Beethoven's first major symphonic innovation.
He replaces the old-fashioned aristocratic dance movement,
the minuet, with a scherzo, which literally means "joke".
An energetic and sometimes confrontational movement
that captures the speed and violence of early 19th-century urban life.
This is a joke which, repeated often enough, begins to sound like a threat.
It is a crude monster, like a wounded dragon that refuses to die,
writhing and bleeding, lashing out furiously with its tail.
The summer of 1802 he spends in a rural village north of Vienna
He's composing his second symphony, but, as he works,
he becomes more and more aware that his hearing is starting to fail.
Heiligenstadt was for Beethoven a place of despair.
"Dissatisfied with many things," he wrote,
"more susceptible than any other person and tormented by my deafness,
I find only suffering in the company of others."
He's acknowledged to himself he's deaf
and the great miracle of art is that the moment he's acknowledged it,
we enter what's cornily called the heroic period.
We get the great, great works of art, because he's overcome it.
MUSIC # Symphony No 3: 1st Movement by Beethoven
To tell the next part of the story, we need to return to Paris
and to a hero's grave.
Just as Beethoven defined his era in music,
so Napoleon Bonaparte towered over his era in world politics
although, of course, he himself was quite a small man.
The name of Napoleon was so potent, his military prowess was so fearsome,
that he dominated and terrorised Europe for over a dozen years.
After his successful coups d'etat in 1799, he appointed himself First Consul,
a man of the French people,
devoted to restoring the republican virtues of liberty, equality and fraternity
after a decade of gross mismanagement and institutionalised terror so widespread
that the guillotine earned the nickname "the national razor".
Beethoven had found the subject for his third and most radical symphony yet.
A work so massive, that its first movement alone
is as long as many of Haydn's early symphonies.
Eroica, the heroic symphony.
The Eroica is an extraordinary, huge advance on anything anyone had done before.
He was a man of the people, creating art for the people
and he thought that was what Napoleon represented.
The Eroica comes to stand for what symphonic composers want to achieve
through their musical works.
The Eroica was a revolutionary piece of work.
Beethoven needed new techniques if he was to express adequately his thoughts about Napoleon,
a man who was affecting such rapid and sweeping changes across Europe,
a man who many believed would bring peace, security and liberty to a troubled continent.
There was no way that Europe could possibly return to life as it was in the days before 1789
and there was no looking back to old models for Beethoven.
The new work just had to be radical, its first performance explosive,
and this is the room where it all happened.
Beethoven's friend, Ferdinand Ries,
said the composer wrote his symphony with Napoleon Bonaparte in mind,
but Napoleon as First Consul.
He held him in great esteem and compared him
to the greatest consuls of ancient Rome.
Ferdinand Ries himself saw a beautifully copied manuscript of the symphony
lying on Beethoven's table and, on the front page,
were inscribed the names "Napoleon" at the top and "Beethoven" at the bottom.
But when Beethoven was told that Napoleon had crowned himself Emperor
he flew into a rage and screamed, "So now he is no more than a common mortal."
"Now he will tread on all the rights of man,
"indulge only his ambition, think himself superior to all men,
"become a tyrant."
He went to the table, picked up the manuscript,
ripped the front page in half and threw it on the floor.
Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, still had 16 more years to live.
But, for Beethoven, it was clear,
his greatness had died on the day of his coronation.
The second movement of the Eroica is a funeral march,
perhaps mourning the loss of a hero.
When the symphony was published three years later, it bore an inscription -
to celebrate the memory of a great man.
Beethoven lived in more than 60 different places during his 35 years in Vienna.
I joined musicologist Professor John Deathridge to visit this one,
which is typically cramped and out of the way.
But wherever the composer lodged, there were always two inevitable objects -
a piano and a treasured portrait.
This is a picture of Beethoven at about the time he wrote his third symphony, the Eroica. Is that right?
That's correct. Painted by a friend of his called Willibrord Mahler,
he played the last movement to the painter
and then he continued on improvising for two hours.
What Mahler was interested in was capturing something of the mythological side of the Eroica.
-And this rather awkward stance.
A little bit like the Mona Lisa, in a sort of country landscape.
And the eyes are looking askance. I often think that this hand here,
it's a very strong hand,
has something to do with his impression of Beethoven
playing the last movement of the Eroica.
It was clearly a very important painting for Beethoven because he took it with him everywhere.
Why did he like it? I'm tempted to say vanity. He looks rather good in this.
It represents for him, I think, something very important about his role as a symphonic composer.
"I am here in the world as a composer and this is what my symphonies are going to be."
I feel that the third symphony is like on the threshold of another age.
It's written because he wanted to answer
what he felt was the scale of Napoleon's achievements
and the normal symphony wouldn't have been enough.
Do you think he saw himself as a hero?
That's a very difficult question to answer.
I feel sure that he knew he had the capacity in him
that was given to very few other creators and that he owed it to himself
to find the extent of the depth of his talent,
which is why he kept pushing the boundaries further and further to create more emotional truth.
I think he felt that he had an heroic capacity as a creator
to take music to a place that nobody thought it could ever go.
And he would not stop here.
There were six more symphonies still to come.
His encroaching deafness would strengthen his almost heroic willpower
and give his music a sense of profound, universal compassion.
After the Eroica, anything was possible.
And he symphony took its place as music's most expressive and articulate form.
To go deeper into the music
and unravel the secrets of the symphony,
follow the links to the Open University at:
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Simon Russell Beale presents a radical reappraisal of the place of the symphony in the modern world and explores the surprising way in which it has shaped our history and identity.
The first episode begins amidst the turmoil of the French Revolution with the arrival in England of Joseph Haydn, dubbed the 'Father of the Symphony'. It continues with Mozart, the genius who wrote his first symphony at the age of eight, and Beethoven, the revolutionary who created the idea of the artist as hero and whose Eroica Symphony changed music for ever.
The music is performed by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Sir Mark Elder.