The Symphony No. 5 in C minor of Ludwig van Beethoven, Op. 67, was written between 1804 and 1808. It is one of the best-known compositions in classical music and one of the most frequently played symphonies, and it is widely considered one of the cornerstones of western music. First performed in Vienna’s Theater an der Wien in 1808, the work achieved its prodigious reputation soon afterward. E. T. A. Hoffmann described the symphony as “one of the most important works of the time.” As is typical of symphonies in the classical period, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is in four movements.
The fourth movement begins immediately after the third, and, unusually, is in C major. In Beethoven’s own words:
Many assert that every minor piece must end in the minor. [Absolutely not!] … Joy follows sorrow, sunshine—rain.
The triumphant and exhilarating finale has been arranged for solo piano before, most notably by Franz Liszt. Virtually all of the transcriptions are only playable by the most gifted performers. This abridgement and arrangement keeps the joyful sounds and excitement while remaining accessible to more performers.
Key: C major
Mood: triumphant, confident
Pedagogy: octaves, staccato, grace notes, repeated chords