Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21, was dedicated to Baron Gottfried van Swieten, an early patron of the composer. The piece was published in 1801 by Hoffmeister & Kühnel of Leipzig. It is not known exactly when Beethoven finished writing this work, but sketches of the finale were found to be from 1795.
The symphony is clearly indebted to Beethoven’s predecessors, particularly his teacher Joseph Haydn as well as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but nonetheless has characteristics that mark it uniquely as Beethoven’s work, notably the frequent use of sforzandi, as well as sudden shifts in tonal centers that were uncommon for traditional symphonic form (particularly in the 3rd movement), and the prominent, more independent use of wind instruments. Sketches for the finale are found among the exercises Beethoven wrote while studying counterpoint under Johann Georg Albrechtsberger in the spring of 1797.

The premiere took place on 2 April 1800 at the K.K. Hoftheater nächst der Burg in Vienna. Most sources agree that the concert program also included Beethoven’s Septet as well as a symphony by Mozart, but there is some disagreement as to whether the remainder of the program included excerpts from Haydn’s oratorio The Creation or from The Seasons and whether Beethoven’s own Piano Concerto No. 1 or No. 2 was performed.[2][3][4] This concert effectively served to announce Beethoven’s talents to Vienna.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Symphony No. 1 Op. 21
1. Adagio molto — Allegro con brio
2. Andante cantabile con moto
3. Menuetto. Allegro molto e vivace
4. Adagio — Allegro molto e vivace


Comments are closed