Beethoven: Symphony No.6, “Pastorale”; Jarvi, DKB, A spring season cheering?

This year of Chinese Lunar New Year is on February 8, 2016; the year of monkey.  I am using this music piece for cheering: “Beethoven: Symphony No.6 in F, “Pastorale”, Op.68
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen Paavo Jarvi, director: Beethoven: Symphony No.6, “Pastorale”; Jarvi, DKB. One link for the 6th symphony is here

Quote from Wikipedia: About Beethoven: Symphony No.6, “Pastorale”

“Beethoven was a lover of nature who spent a great deal of his time on walks in the country. He frequently left Vienna to work in rural locations.”

“‘Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside.’: The symphony begins with a placid and cheerful movement depicting the composer’s feelings as he arrives in the country. The movement, in 2/4 meter, is in sonata form, and its motifs are extensively developed. At several points Beethoven builds up orchestral texture by multiple repetitions of very short motifs. Yvonne Frindle commented,[6] “the infinite repetition of pattern in nature [is] conveyed through rhythmic cells, its immensity through sustained pure harmonies.”

Explanations for each movement from this web page and I quote: Each movement subtitle explaining what it was about


Beethoven spread out the symphony into five movements and gave each movement a little subtitle explaining what it was about.

I. “Happy Arrival” (Awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrival in the country)

The Pastoral symphony opens with warmth and calm, setting the scene as we arrive in the countryside. This has a programmatic indication. In this movement, we find a genuine popular sonority through the choice of instruments neatly weaved together.

II. “By the Brook” (The natural scene of the stream)

This slow movement is a beautiful depiction of the delicate nature of… nature itself. It is a wonderful scene of nature with exceptionally musical themes in the pure pastoral air. You can almost breathe the fresh country air! It is more of a description of sensations rather than images. Towards the end, we find the onomatopoeic sounds of birds.

III. “Merrymaking” (Joyful gathering of countryfolk)

Now we turn our attention to the loud, jolly peasants who live in the countryside. Here we see them celebrate with a joyful dance. Of course, these are simple folks, so the music itself is simple, but very energetic.

IV. “ThunderStorm” (Heavy rumblings of natural forces) 29:21

With no pause between the previous movement and this movement, there is a dramatic surprise, hinting at trouble ahead. Yes, a storm is brewing! Beethoven inserts fantastic lightning crashes and the whirl of the wind. He renders the stages of the storm as it unravels on the horizon and moves closer more and more threatening. The instruments with grave chords — cellos and double basses — through their sounds announce the storm, then, the staccato sounds of the violins render the falling raindrops, and through the timpani and the flutes we sense the thunder and lightning. Then comes the rainbow. Above all these images, we feel the tense disposition that captures man facing the realities of nature. There’s an underlying sense of human fear since humanity is powerless against the forces of nature. When the storm is over, all living creatures come to the surface, taking their place in the natural cycle. This is rendered by a choral of flutes which come as a true sunray.

V. “Shepherd’s Song” (Expression of thanks when the storm is over)

As the storm fades away, all the animals emerge, and there’s a general feeling of relief. Sunshine reappears, and everyone’s mind is relaxed again. This is the song of gratitude towards nature. It is a calm movement, full of grace. It starts out quiet, but quickly gets faster and happier. The music is fairly simple, but this makes its emotions of gratitude endearing.

Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, through its simplicity, is just sincere and natural.



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