Music Column

This is Somin Virmani, here to spill my thoughts and opinions on the latest[a] releases. First, a little bit about myself: from a young age, I took up the piano. Soon after that, I delved into the flute, singing, and recently, the organ. I have a love for all things classical, but I also appreciate chart-topping pop songs, EDM remixes, rap anthems, jazz renditions, and much more. You can rely on this column to inform you of the hottest recent[b][c] music, regardless of genre. I would also expect a bit of news buzz if I were you!

Whether in a TV show or a movie, I bet you have heard the iconic classical music piece that begins like this: ‘Dun dun dun dunnn…. Dun dun dun dunnnnn.[d][e]’ This is the opening of the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th symphony, an orchestral work of the early romantic era. While Beethoven was writing his 5th symphony, he was partially deaf and on his way to losing all of his hearing. Furthermore, he allegedly[f] told his assistant, Anton Schindler, that the opening of his 5th symphony was his representation of fate knocking on the door. We can conclude that the 5th symphony serves as a reflection of Beethoven’s emotions regarding his ‘fated’ deafness, and I will give my interpretation of his emotions by analyzing the music in the opening of Beethoven’s 5th symphony.

As I noted earlier, Beethoven’s 5th symphony famously begins with a resounding ‘dun dun dun dunnn.’ The opening phrase is played by all the strings in the orchestra, establishing a powerful presence. This grand opening, which we have come to understand as fate’s ‘knock on the door,’ is a sensible representation of fate; fate bears weight on peoples’ lives, and so it is logical to represent the knocking of faith with a strong, musical event. After these robust ‘Dun duns’, we hear a somewhat apprehensive line in the violins that builds anticipation. Specifically, the notes climb incrementally up a scale and increase in volume, headed for an eventual climax. In my opinion, this musical line mirrors how Beethoven might have felt after hearing fate’s petrifying knock. Following this, as if Beethoven’s emotions begin to swirl and entangle, the music reaches a climax and then falls in a cascading, chordal pattern. This cascading pattern is transferred among the different string sections of the orchestra. Finally, with a resounding fanfare from the horns, the opening of the symphony is complete.

Overall, I would describe the opening of this symphony as a climactic episode of apprehension and angst. He must have been constantly worrying about his livelihood and his relationships, not to mention the barrier of deafness between himself and his passion—music. By listening to the opening of his 5th symphony, a window into Beethoven’s world appears; I can sense the frantic swirl of apprehensive energy, and feel the overwhelming power of fate.