After the pulsating Seventh Symphony, Ludwig van Beethoven gave audiences something very different. The lighthearted Symphony No. 8 looks back to a simpler time in European life with music full of humorous passages and nods to Mozart.
It's a decidedly un-revolutionary piece from a groundbreaking genius. But when Beethoven set out to write his next symphony a decade later, he composed an ambitious masterwork for the ages.
Watch a performance
Watch Daniel Barenboim conduct a performance of Beethoven's Eighth Symphony at the BBC Proms:
Some of CPR Classical's favorite recordings of Symphony No. 8:
- Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra; Riccardo Chailly, conductor
- Philharmonia Orchestra; Herbert von Karajan, conductor
- Revolutionary and Romantic Orchestra; John Eliot Gardiner, conductor
- German Chamber Philharmonic Bremen; Paavo Jarvi, conductor
- Chamber Orchestra of Europe; Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor
Host Monika Vischer on Symphony No. 8:
He’s most famous for his odd-numbered symphonies. Each one plunges into a radical new direction.
But the even-numbered symphonies -- Nos. 2, 4, 6 and 8 -- were an important resting point, if you will, creating an ebb and flow throughout the symphonies. This is Beethoven reflecting life and the human experience. Breathing in and out.
It’s no different with the Eighth Symphony.
Read the full essay.
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The Beethoven 9 podcast offers an in-depth exploration of Ludwig van Beethoven's nine symphonies, featuring host Monika Vischer and Beethoven biographer Jan Swafford. Hear other episodes or subscribe to be notified when new installments are available.