Between the Eroica and the Fifth, often titled the “Symphony of Destiny” in the music history books, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony from 1806 never had an easy time of it. Until the present day, it may well be the most rarely played one, and thus even for avid classical music lovers the composer’s most unknown symphony.
What a pity! With the Fourth, Beethoven succeeded in creating a work which seamlessly links to the musical accomplishments of its much more popular predecessor. Its predominantly relaxed, cheerful tone seems to be the background against which the dramatic developments of the Fifth were able to take shape. The composer was described by his contemporaries during his work on the Fourth as “in the mood for every prank, of good spirits, lively, enjoying life, witty, not seldom also satirical” – and Beethoven’s music of those days certainly has comparable traits. So it is high time to get to know (once again) this side of the “titan”.
The music of Carl Nielsen is also worth discovering. Between 1891 and 1925 the Danish composer created six contributions to the symphonic genre – and pursued his own highly individual path in the border area between the late Romantic and Modern eras. In this concert programme, his Fifth, for which the Berliner Philharmoniker invited Herbert Blomstedt, one of Nielsen’s most important contemporary champions, forms an antithesis to Beethoven’s Fourth.