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Symphony No. 1: A Great (But Not Groundbreaking) Start

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Ludwig van Beethoven wrote symphonies that introduced new musical ideas, inspired generations of composers and expanded the idea of what a symphony could be.

But he started modestly. His First Symphony, written in 1800, doesn't break new ground so much as it pays tribute to predecessors like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

It may not be his most innovative or influential piece, but it helps illuminate how dramatically he would reshape the idea of a symphony in his later work.

Watch a performance 

See the Chicago Symphony and conductor Georg Solti performing Symphony No. 1 in its entirety:

Must-hear recordings

Some of CPR Classical's favorite recordings of Symphony No. 1:

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Host Monika Vischer on Symphony No. 1:

It shows Beethoven honoring his musical lineage with complete command of the structures and styles that preceded him.

It also shows early glimpses of Beethoven's free spirit.

And he already was losing his hearing, the scourge that would grow worse as his music blossomed. 

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.