Beethoven is, of course, revered as one of the greatest composers of all time. When we think about him as a person, we usually picture the cranky, increasingly deaf man we’ve seen in popular culture.
But we seldom imagine that Beethoven was a person who loved being outdoors. Yet he frequently left the city to work in the countryside and spent many summers in rural areas.
The 6th Symphony is a result of Beethoven’s love of nature. It’s one of only two Symphonies that Beethoven personally named – the full title being "Pastoral Symphony, or Recollections of Country Life" (the other one is his 3rd, titled “Heroic Symphony”). He deliberately set out to create an “expression of nature,” and to capture the feelings he had when going on walks in the countryside, one of his favorite pastimes. Because of this intention and the fact that the music tells a story, the Pastoral Symphony stands apart from Beethoven’s other works.
Within the composition, Beethoven made notes like this one: “Anyone who has an idea of country life can make out for himself the intentions of the composer without many titles.” In other words, you can listen to the Pastoral Symphony and hear, in the five movements, the happy arrival in the countryside, the beauty of the surrounding nature, the festive folk dance, the raging storm, and the happy ending as the storm subsides and the light breaks.
In a letter Beethoven wrote in 1810, he said, "How delighted I will be to ramble for a while through the bushes, woods, under trees, through grass, and around rocks. No one can love the country as much as I do. For surely woods, trees, and rocks produce the echo that man desires to hear."
Join us on September 21 and 22 for Beethoven on the Cape and enjoy listening to our extraordinary musicians as they bring Beethoven’s sounds of nature to life. Call 508.362.1111 or visit capesymphony.org.