To assign the first movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony the sonata form would truly be a subjective judgment. I will first explain how this movement fits thesonata form; then I will discuss how it diverges from this form in rather fascinating ways.
Broadly speaking, the first movement can be divided in to three pieces, each beginning with a version of what I have denoted A_0, the introduction to the piece inwhich motifs float around in a constant void, gaining energy, and morphing into musicalthemes. If we were to impose the sonata structure onto the piece, we would say that the three pieces are the exposition, development, and recapitulation. The exposition introduces two large thematic blocks separated by a transition that…show more content… Sometimes, these two voices will overlap, creating a sense of a fugue, where two melodic lines flow at different times along the same stream. Although he breaks up the soft legato sequences with loud, harsh staccato chords for contrast, Beethoven generally preserves a milddynamic in part B which also helps obscure the switch from the transition to part B. Infact, a loud dynamic actually seems to signal a transition out of part B; in B_2’, the B_2 theme is repeated in sequence, getting louder, faster, and higher pitched until it climaxes.We expect this to become the cadence that will resolve the exposition and allow us tomove on to the development. However, it is a false ending; B_5 again resumes a moderate tempo and is played primarily by the woodwinds; the strings enter in littlespurts with loud, crisp notes until they join the woodwinds and the entire orchestra plays together to conclude the exposition.
It is truly difficult to isolate a dominating theme or melody from part B. In fact, italmost sounds as if Beethoven is wordpainting the act of composing music, of throughrecycling rhythmic, melodic, and contrapuntal ideas. For example, the rhythm in this section is composed of sets of patterns of long and short notes. B_1 starts of with ‘- ‘-,where ‘ represents a short note and – a long note. B_2 becomes -‘’ -‘’, and then