Beethoven Symphony no 1 - first movement

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Introduction (b1-12) melody and texture

  • Begins with chords played by sustained wind and pizz strings
  • Polyphonic from b5
  • Antiphony in bar 8 and 10 (wind and strings)
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Introduction (b1-12) - harmony

Cadences on sustained woodwind chords and pizzicato strings

  • Begins with perfect cadence (V7 I) in F major (C7 F)
  • Interruped cadence (V7 vi) in C major (G7 Am) (subsititutes Am for expected C)
  • Perfect cadence (V7 I) in G major (D7 G)

Linking quavers (violins) have F natural which seems to lead to C. The music is in C from b5 but the chord at b5 is G7 (not the C we expect)

  • Chords G7, G7/f, C/e G7/b (V7, V7d, Ib, V7/b) the use of inversions creates a stepwise bassline
  • We expect a chord Ia but don't get it (we get chord I but in first inversion, weaker)
  • Dominant pedal in clarinet/oboe (b5 beat 1 - b 7 beat 3) broken by auxillary F#s (weaken C major)
  • We finally get chord Ia in b8, followed by a cadential 6-4 (I ii7 Ic V7)
  • However, this leads to Am, F and C/g
  • In b12 the music overshoots to G but F#s are cancelled out (strings)
  • Key of C not fully established until b13 (first subject). Beethoven outlines C major arpeggio in horn in b12, but the C major chord is in weaker 2nd inversion
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Exposition (b13-109) first subject (b13-33) melody

  • Begins with melody in 1st violins
  • Melody has 3 cells         A                    B                     C
  • 3 phrases using the cells:
  • AABBC in C, AABBC in Dm, cells in a different order on chord G7 (ABBABBAC) with a slight rhythmic alteration to cell B. C is inverted and rhythmically diminished
  • Other strings accompany violins with chords
  • Linking chords between phrases (all instruments except violin)
  • Ends with tutti chords
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Exposition (b13-109) first subject (b13-33) - harm

  • 1st subject played 3 times, each on different chord
  • Melody has strong dominant-tonic relationship
  • First time on C
  • (C A7 woodwind link) Second time played on D
  • (Dm D1/2dim7) Third time played on G7
  • G chord then G7 descending arpeggio in violins
  • Crotchets play I IV Ic V I (cadential 6-4) in C
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Exposition (b13-109) , bridging passage (b33-54) h

  • Starts in C
  • Alternates Ic and V7, with tonic pedal
  • Inverted cycle of 5ths with the motif from cell B, starting on C
  • Harmonic rhythm diminished from b41, increasing momentum
  • Passing modulation to G in b45, but the F# is immediately cancelled out by F natural in viola and lower strings
  • Alternatec chords V and Ic
  • Ends on G forming an imperfect cadence in C
  • We expect music to return to C but Beethoven begins 2nds subject in G major
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Exposition (b13-109) bridging passage (b33-54) mel

  • Has it's own theme (rising triad) played on violins in octaves
  • Semiquavers are familiar material from 1st subject
  • Imitated by woodwind then repeated elaborated at b37
  • Motif B is then used in rising sequence (strings in 8ves). Fragmented to become just the rising fourth
  • New motif in lower strings and wind in imitation at b45
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Exposition (b13-109), second subject (b52-88) - ha

  • Begins in G
  • Progression I ii V7 (G Am D7). This is the same progression as the phrases of the 1st subject, but with 1 chord per bar.
  • Alternates V7 and I
  • Following passage has lots of chromatic movement
  • Passing modulation to D in bars 59-60 (A7 D but C# immediately cancelled out by C natural in lower strings
  • ii V7
  • Passing modulation to C: G7 chord in bar 64 (unexpected!), followed by C
  • B dim7 and G# dim 7 lead to Am
  • Passing modulation cancelled out in b68 with F# (vln 2, flute, oboe, bassoon)
  • After chromaticism, I and V alternated in various inversions
  • Big perfect cadence in G (Ib IV Ic V I (cadential 6-4) )
  • We expect codetta here
  • Instead, cycle of 5ths starting with Gm (second subject continued) (Gm Cm F7 Bb, Cm7 F D7 Gm)
  • Leading up to codetta there is a V vi ii7 V7 I in G (D, Am, Em7, D7, G)
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Expostion (b13-109) second subect (b52-88) melody/

  • New motif in imitation (oboe/flute)
  • Accompanied by 1st subject cell C in violins
  • 2nd phrase in homophony
  • Motif imitated between flute/oboe and violins with accompanying cell C figure in bassoon and clarinet
  • Slightly altered second phrase
  • Homophonic chords/semiquaver figures
  • Codetta expected but instead there is a minor version of the 2nd subject motif  in the bassoon and cellos/bass with a countermelody in the oboe and later the bassoon
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Exposition (b13-109), codetta (b88-109) - harmony

  • Starts in G major
  • Starts using chords I and V but then becomes more chromatic
  • b93 D# dim7 (subsitute for B7)
  • b94 E/g#
  • b95 G# dim7 (substitute for E7)
  • b96 Am
  • b97 C# dim7 (substitute for A7)
  • b98 D
  • these diminished 7ths are subsitutes for secondary dominants (there is only 1 semitone difference)
  • Tutti in 8ves V Ic IV V I in G
  • Alternates between I and V7 (G and D7)
  • Linking arpeggio of G7 to return to C for repeat of exposition, or leading on to the development
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Exposition (b13-109) codetta (b88-109) melody/text

  • Cell A in imitation between celli/bass/viola and violins/wind
  • Cell B in violins in rising sequence
  • Cell C in the viola/celli/bass in descending sequence
  • Cell C in wind/violins
  • Chords in 8ves
  • Melody in the violins, flutes and clarinet (repeated motif)
  • Counter melody in oboe and bassoon in 3rds
  • Linking arpeggio
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Recapitulation - melody/texture (differences from

NB/ remember to still illustrate the material that's the same in the exposition

In the first subject recap the melody is played in octaves in all wind and strings, not just1st violins. This creates a fuller texture.
The accompanying chords are now played on brass and timpani, rather than just strings, and are more sustained than before. The phrase isn't repeated for a 3rd time.
Instead the semiquaver figure is imitated between violins and violas/lower strings over a rising cycle of 5ths. Sustained chords are still there. (transition section)

In the second subject the imitated melody that was played on flute and oboe is now played in doubled up pairs of flute/clarinet and oboe/bassoon. The bassoon gives the music less of a light and airy feel.

The second subject is basically the same. Inclusion of timpani in bar 224/5. In b235 the clarinet enters with the counter melody to the minor key version of second subject (after oboe) which it plays with the bassoon. In the exposition the oboe continues and is joined by the bassoon, with no clarinet.

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Recapitulation - harmony (differences from exposit

NB. If exam question is on recapitulation, make sure to include the harmonic detail from the exposition that is the same, and say it's transposed.

The chords on which the first subject is played are now C and Dm (no G7). Instead of repeating the phrase on G7 it goes straight into the transition. The sustained chords and semiquaver figure are still there (semiquavers used in imitation).

In the transition the semiquaver figure is repeated above a rising cycle of 5ths. Increased harmonic rhythm creates tension. (Different to exposition in which I and V7 alternate followed by a rising cycle of 5ths).

Am F7-Bb G-C A7-Dm C7-F D7-G

Chord Ic repeated leading into 2nd subject. Overshoots to G in b201 and 204/5, immediately cancelled out.

Second subject now in the tonic key (in exposition it starts in G). Material virtually the same. In 224/5 the timpani plays because it's tuned to C and G and can now play (couldn't play G and D in the exposition).

Codetta virtually identical (but in C not G)

Recapitulation ends with a perfect cadence in C, leading to coda (which takes on arpeggio idea)

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Development b110-122 - melody and texture

  • 1st subject cell A and B on 1st violins
  • Answered in antiphony by syncopated chords on other instruments (minues brass)
  • This 4 bar antiphonal phrase is heard 4 times
  • The bass accompaniment is an inverted cell C, with rests inbetween
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Development - harmony, b65-100

  • Phrase heard 2 times: A A7, D D7, G G7 (cycle of 5ths, 4 bar harmonic rhythm)
  • Chords start in first inversion
  • The flats in the chords harmonicallly imply that the next chord will be minor, but it's major
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Development b110-122 - melody and texture

  • 1st subject cell A and B on 1st violins
  • Answered in antiphony by syncopated chords on other instruments (minues brass)
  • This 4 bar antiphonal phrase is heard 4 times
  • The bass accompaniment is an inverted cell C, with rests inbetween
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Development - texture and melody, b122-136

  • 1st subject cell C used in imitation, passed from bass to upper woodwind to violins/bassoon
  • 4 bar passage repeated 5 times (final two with diminished, 2 bar harmonic rhythm)
  • Contrary motion in 4th bar
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Development - harmony, b122-136

  • Starts on Cm
  • Cycle of 5ths with 4 bar harmonic rhythm C7 Fm F7 Bb
  • A dim7 used as a substitute for dominant of Bb (when HR diminishes)
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Development - melody and texture b136-144

  • Uses transition motif from b45
  • Imitation with rike swapping (extended inverted version or actual motif) in strings, which causes contrary motion
  • Then motif on all strings with woodwind chords
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Development - harmony, b136-144

  • Starts on Bb7, leads to Eb (so key of Eb)
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Development - melody and texture b44-160

  • Cell A from first subject fragmented
  • Imitated in horn, oboe, flute, violin, cello
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Development - harmony, b144-160

  • Rising (inverted) cycle of 5ths 
  • 4 bar passage appears in Eb, Fm, Gm, Dm
  • Final chord E7, which should lead to Am
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Development - melody and texture, b160-179

  • 1st subject cell A answered by parallel 3rds (antiphony)
  • Cell A has been extended using semiquavers
  • Preceeded by semiquaver flourish (upbeat to b13) but is inverted
  • Flourish (not  inverted) is repeated underneath the parallel 3rds, followed by a linking arpeggio
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Development - harmony, b160-179

  • The D# is a chromatic note (ignore it)
  • Uses Am and E and ends on an imperfect cadence in Am (relative minor)
  • Dominant pedal on horn/trumpet
  • G7 linking arpeggio to return to C
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