Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Beethoven Bicentennial

Today is the 200th anniversary of the premiere of one of the most popular and most recognizable compositions in classical music — Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

The symphony made its debut at a marathon, four-hour concert of Beethoven's compositions at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. Although his hearing was getting worse, Beethoven directed the concert, which included his Fifth and Sixth symphonies (performed in reverse order) and a couple of piano performances by Beethoven himself.

The Fifth Symphony has already earned an important spot in world history. It has a distinctive four-note opening motif that was used during World War II as the intro for the BBC's radio newscasts because it suggests Morse code for the letter "V" — for victory.