Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68

  • Composed 1808
  • Dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz and Count Razumovsky
  • Composition and first performance dates same as the 5th symphony
  • Dedications same as 5th symphony
  • 5th and 6th written essentially at the same time
  • 6th is program music, with the program written by the composer
  • 5th is absolute music, no program
Five movements:
I.  “Awakening of Happy Thoughts Upon Arriving in the Countryside.”  F Major.  Sonata form. Exceptional for its lack of contrast.  Relies heavily on literal or near-literal repetition at almost every level. 
II.  Andante molto moto. [“At a walking pace, with much movement”]  B-flatMajor. “Scene by the Brook.”  Sonata form.  12/8 meter, unusual, but fitting the program.  Ends with bird calls, labelled by the composer: nightingale, quail, and cuckoo.
III.  Allegro. “Happy Gathering of Country-Folk.”  F Major.  Functions as a scherzo.  A dance movement, with three successive triple-meter dance tunes, the last in a faster tempo and in duple meter.  Leads without a break into the 4th movement.
IV.  “Thunder. Storm”  F minor.  Low string rumblings start this movement. Piccolo appears for the first time, then later, trombones.  No break before the 5th movement. 
V.  “Shepherd’s Song.  Happy and Thankful Feelings After the Storm”  F Major.  Rondo, strong variation elements (ABACABAABAAA)  Return to peacefulness of 1st and 2nd movements.   “Pastoral” wind instruments predominate.

 

Timings for the Bernstein performance:

1 – Allegro Ma Non Troppo:     0:00
2 – Andante Molto Mosso 11:33
3 – Allegro 25:26
4 – Allegro
5 – Allegretto

Another performance, with these timings:

I.  Happy Arrival (0:00)

II.  By the Brook  (10:56)

III. Merrymaking (24:10)

IV.  Thunderstorm (29:21)

V.  Shepherd’s Song (32:22)

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