Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beethoven Symphony No.6

Part of a sketch for Symphony No.6
in Beethoven's hand
"What is that part which is greater than its whole? What is the way to find that part?" (Iqbal, Persian Psalms; 1927)

This is the sixth of the nine questions listed by Iqbal in 'The New Garden of Mystery' in Persian Psalms (1927). The answer we may gather from his writings is that the ego or the self is a part of the apparent world but also greater than it. We reach it through the inner dimension of Life, i.e. by  first losing it in the larger picture.

The sixth symphony of Beethoven was first performed in Vienna in 1808, on the same evening as the fifth. The name given to it by the composer himself was "Pastoral-Sinfonie oder Erinnerung an das Landleben. (Mehr Ausdruck der Emphindung als Mahlerey.)" – “Pastoral Symphony or Recollection of the Life in the Countryside”. (See All About Beethoven: Symphony No.6)

The connection of this symphony with the world of Nature is often discussed in terms that may remind the readers of Iqbal of his sixth work Gabriel's Wing (Baal-i-Jibreel; 1936). Consider, for instance, the French Romantic composer Hector Berlioz described it as an "astonishing landscape" as vivid as that painted by the greatest painter except that "we are dealing here with real nature." (See The Hector Berlioz Website: 'A Critical Study of the Symphonies of Beethoven'). Or even some observations from our contemporaries like Yvonne Frindle, the publications editor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra: "it is in the 'expression of feelings' – the poetry – that the Pastoral Symphony finds its real strength and imagination: the infinite repetition of pattern in nature conveyed through rhythmic cells, its immensity through sustained pure harmonies." (See Programme Note for Beethoven & Schubert in Vienna).
Video: Symphony No.6 (Complete)
I. Happy Arrival 
II. By the Brook 
III. Merrymaking
 @ 28:16 
IV. ThunderStorm
 @ 34:22 
V. Shepherd's Song 

1 comment: