Which Beethoven's symphony do you like the best?

And Why?

I have asked this question to many. The answer is always inconclusive. So I think I will try this here. Thank you in advance for responding.

Also, it would be interesting to know which composition do you like the best?
9th happens to be my favourite.
The ninth is by far my favorite and is arguably the greatest peice of music ever written.
The Pastoral(number 6) because it was the first one I was exposed to at an impressionable age.
I like the Seventh the most. I think one of the reasons I may like it the most is because I've seen it performed the most number of times.

Jtinn writes:
... and is arguably the greatest peice of music ever written
Sure to get an argument going. ;-)

I hate to be so cynical but I'm really sick of all of them.
I enjoy the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh the best.
then the Third and Ninth a little.
Forget the First, Second, and Eighth.
Fifth is my favorite ta-ta-ta-tahhhhhh..:)
The Fifth. Makes me simultaneously angry and happy. Not too many other pieces do that.
NINTH is the queen of all symphonies.
Anybody knows what is after ta-ta-ta-tahhhh... in Fifth?:-)
Answer to Marakanetz
Another ta-ta-ta-tahhhhh...
Now you got the whole first movement of Beethoven's Fifth symphony running through my head!!!
The fifth is OK. The others are so-so. The ninth proves how deaf he was (IMHO).

On the other hand, Mozart never wrote anything that isn't wonderful.
Dear Eldartford

Just a matter of opinion; just a matter of opinion! Yours!!


I believe the moonlight sonata was composed by the great composer with his head pinned on the top of the piano for vibrations as he could not hear anything. We can hear, does it mean we can compose somthing better than moonlight sonata? Come, come, we ought to respect him for what he gave us! If the 9th was so bad it would be forgotten by now!
A_e_watkins..IMHO means In My Humble Opinion. The question asks for opinions, and that's mine.

And yes, Quadophile, Beethoven wrote some really good stuff, but I think that his Symphonies are overrated.

IMHO yes you are entitled to have an opinion of your own and I respect you for that.
Eldartford, would you ever be able to compose something at least as good as the "worst" Beethoven's symphony? I'm sure not!
Eldartford, Richard Wagner adored/venered the 9th so much! do you think he (R.W) was not able to appreciate "good stuff"?
What a nest of hornets I stirred up by disliking the 9th!

No, I can't write a symphony, but I can do many other things that Beethoven couldn't. It would be more appropriate to compare Beethoven to Bach or Mozart.

No wonder Wagner liked the 9th. It is pompous and overbearing just like much of Wagner's music.

R U conductor??
Eldartford, It is one thing to say you do not like Beethovens 9th, or any of the rest of his symphonies for that matter. But, to dismiss them as valueless, not just to you, but in general, does in fact make your opinion a humble one and of little value to anyone interested in music but yourself. And if you reread your posts that is what you will find you have done. IMHO.
Nickalu, Love them all, but the two I listen to most often are #5 and #7 as done by Carlos Kleiber on DG. Just let'um rip. Totally engaging, foot tapping music!
I like the 7th the best, principally because it's a joyful one and I've always found the second movement to be hauntingly beautiful.

Eldartford, you're not alone, apart from the second movement, which I think is perhaps the greatest "dance" movement ever written, I have never liked the 9th Symphony as much as everyone else seems to. Just seems a bit overblown to me, more a theoretical triumph than truly moving to me. Obviously many disagree. I had the same problem with Mahler for a long time, but have gradually educated myself to appreciate his music, perhaps if I spent more time with the 9th I could learn to love it more.
The 9th is one of the 5 best symphonies ever written (and for some musicologists, the best of all), and since my point of view, one should not say that the 9th is overrated just because is not able to appreciate it.

Rcprince, be patient with this symphony as you were with Mahler's music, if you liked the 7th I'm almost sure you'll love the 9th after a while.

Eldartford, would it make sense to you if I said Mozart's last 5 symphonies are overrated? I guess you would laugh.
The March (2nd movement) of the Seventh
Fifth because it encompasses the the range of emotions from anger to joy.
The final movement of 9th, Ode to Joy. This piece of music draws parallels to the 4th Movement of Mozart's Jupiter, which is my very favorite symphony but this is about Beethoven, not Mozart. I can only imagine that Beethoven was inspired by Mozart's Jupiter when he wrote the Ode.
Tubegroover, Interesting comparison - when I hear The "ode" I think that he must have inspired Mahler to write his 2d, another great, dramatic, choral/orchestral ending.
As the saying goes..."If I said that I was misquoted".

No, I am not a conductor..so what? I do know a little about music having, as an amateur, played violin in an orchestra.

Yes, I do enjoy Beethoven's symphonies, but given a choice between two concerts, Mozart or Beethoven 9, I would go to Mozart. They are not "bad": just overrated (and overplayed).

As an aside...I live a few miles from Tanglewood, the summer music festival in western Mass, and have attended many concerts these. One disturbing aspect of these concerts is the reaction of the audience to what is often a mediocre or perfunctory performance of something like a Beethoven symphony. (The musicians will tell you this. Remember, they are on summer vacation, and not really focused on their job). Wild applause. Standing ovation. Bravos. For some people the fact that it's Beethoven is all they care about. Makes you sick.

Everything said by everyone on this site is an opinion
I love all Beethoven symphonies and have 8-9 complete sets, my favorites are symphony 7,8 because I think these have the more interesting and enjoyable middle movements which make these two the best overall for me.

I think for performances I prefer the newest modern sets which were influenced by period instrument performances of late 1980's (ie Norrington, Hogwood, Gardiner), tempos are genrally faster and textures clarified:
Abbado/DG 2000
Zinman/Arte Nova
I've been always thinking of Mozart's repeating a light chamber Baroque of Vivaldi, Corelli, presenting nearly nothing new in his simphonies while taking Bethoven in general as one of the most innovative and forwarded composers of that time who actually stepped off the classical conservatizm and embedded the instruments he wanted to develop a music. Choral 9th is a large step towards being even more innovative to include voice and lyrics.
Marakanetz...Yes, Beethoven was innovative, in fact that was the major criticism of him in his own time.
If you think that Mozart was not creative you need to do some more thinking. If "inovation" is the key to Beethoven then "creativity" describes Mozart. As one very very simple example: look what he did with "twinkle, twinkle, little star".
Eldartford, you should learn that Mozart was not the only who composed wonderful music. Who was the best, Beethoven or Mozart? I think nobody should argue about that, for me, they both are at the very top (alongside the great Joahnn Sebastian). Regards.
Amen Eldartford, creativity and an endless stream of musical ideas indeed! That is his appeal to me. Yes Beethoven was innovative and was influenced by the political climate of his time which fomented the metamorphis from Classical to Romantic. I love the music of both but for completely different reasons. No need to debate such greatness, just be thankful for what they left us and lets not forget, this IS about your favorite Beethoven symphony.
For symphony, and for myself, any Beethoven is better than Mozart. It is not a fair comparison, because Mozart probably never hear the last few ones by Beethoven. Mozart did many beatiful music. But as far as symphony or piano sonata, IMHO Mozart did not get to the same level as B's. My friend, a Mozart fan and entry level classical lover, once told me that the reason Beethoven's are famous is because he wrote more symphony than Mozart. He did not know that there are >40 pieces done by Mozart. He can recall many Beethoven's work and never really remember Mozart more than one. That's a Mozart fan! I agree that Beethoven is more "innovative", every piece sounds so different and you remember them individually so clear even you are not a classical fan. Beethoven's music has strong love, hate, toughness, peace .... inside. Mozart never touches me in the way Beethoven does. Those strong feeling can easily be picked up by beginnier. Many love them even more after getting ages. Many (or I should say most) conductors picked 9th as their last performance as they retired. His symphony moved more people than others. Check this thread, and you know the ratio.
Interesting Bluefin that you would put Beethoven's piano sonatas and I would guess concertos as well, above Mozart's? Interesting indeed.
I will not criticize(in the larger sense of the term)any symphonies in this post but point out my subjective opinions.

Beethoven's best work was his last five string quartets.

Mozart's best work was his Vienna era piano concertos.

Bach's best work was The Musical Offering and The Art of Fugue.

Just my three cents,up a penny from two cents.
Having 15 complete cycle recordings and attended (Carnegie Hall, New York) 2 complete cycle performances of Beethoven’s symphonies, I am still amazed by every single note in his symphonies he wrote more than 170 years ago. Yes, Mozart is great. No one will confront that fact. Has anyone disputed Bach’s greatness? Beethoven’s symphonies being “overplayed” or “overrated” is not related to the qualities of these symphonies themselves, it is a consensus issue. As a statistician myself, how can I question the choices of billions of people in the past 170 years? Bruckner’s and Mahler’s symphonies are being heard in my life more recurrently than Beethoven’s but I still deeply admire Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, op. 125. IT IS IMMORTAL, in my very humble opinion. It comforts wounded souls, projects the Utopia where we human beings finally can live peacefully. So we can cease debating the greatness of Mozart and Beethoven

Also 2nd movement of Symphony No.3, 4th movement of Symphony No. 4, 1st movement of Symphony No.5, 2nd movement of Symphony No.6, 4th movement of Symphony No. 7 and 1st movement of Symphony No. 8 are my favorite fragments of these symphonies if I have the courage to separate them from whole compositions.

Happy Listening.

Yes, who can forget the opening of Beethoven's 5th and the ending of 9th. It is like a laster printer print into my head since I was a kid first time listening to it. So strong and I can't forget it. The passion is not only strong but also very deep, so I like them even more after growing up. Several B's piano sonata also impress me so much that it is a joyful lifetime memory. There are also other work here and there which are great(e.g. concerto 5th and some violin works....). Mozart, Bach, Mahler Chopin..... are all great composers too. Every one has his own strength. However, when I saw people stating "Beethoven's symphonies are overrated", I have to step out to express my love to his work. Many people can hum the melody from the complex Beethoven symphony. And how many of them remember any melody from "Jupiter"(I may even spell it wrong)? Ask a kid to hum a symphony, and see if you hear a Beethoven or someone else.
Mozart was the greatest musical genius that ever lived. You might, or not like his work, but fact stands. Beethoven was great, but was depressed most of his life for not "being" Mozart. I love them all, and we are unfortunate there hasn't been one contemporary with 100/th talent of any of the Classical guys. Jazz folks? Do not even go there.
Evidently one cannot make any criticism of Beethoven in this company without being acused of being ignorant. For what it's worth, my appreciation of classical music, including Beethoven, dates from about 1948 when I attended a musically oriented boarding school in New Zealand, and it has continued ever since. I may disagree with you, but not because I am ignorant. Perhaps I've heard that 9th too many times. Does anyone else have the feeling that the choral part begins well but goes nowhere?
Eldartford: Yes. I guess that my problem with the 9th, and it was my problem with the Mahler symphonies as well, is that the ending just seems to start and stop too much to make it coherent to my admittedly structured way of analyzing music (contrast it with the 5th symphony, which is as perfect structurally--and musically--as any symphony ever written). I've probably got to listen to it more to fully understand it (I used to feel the same way about the Mahler 2nd's last movement, but now it's one of my favorites), but my overall feeling from that movement, while it is genuinely moving, inspired and brilliant for the most part, is that it tries to do too much and loses me at the end as a result.
Bluefin I would definitely acknowledge that the opening motif to the 5th of Beethoven is probably the most well known passage in music, little doubt about that. I would also bet that the 1st and 3rd movement of Mozart's G minor symphony (# 40) are instantly recognizable to at least as many folks, possibly more, than any particular passage in a Beethoven Symphony other than the 1st movement of the 5th and the final movement of the 9th. I would also guess that although many might recognize the G Minor, most probably wouldn't know who composed it. The point is the music stays with you from the first time you hear it, hooks galore :)

Eldartford, Since you are, in fact, quite familar with classical music, wouldn't your point have been better expressed if you had voiced specific critisms, as opposed to making generic expressions, such as "over-rated", etc which when read by novices can be mis-understood as meaning that they are unworthy.I think it is this manner of expression that draws the boo's. While I realize the significance of all of Beethovens symphonies in the whole, as well as in the part, as with you I too am not really drawn to hearing repeated performances of the 9th. I feel it is not as cohesive as the 5th and 7th nor as pastoral as the 6th or joyful as the 8th. None the less it was Beethovens Symphonies which broke the ground for future symphonists, the romantic period if you will, not Mozart, even though for many years even such as Brahms felt he could not compete as a symphonist - because he felt Beethoven had said it all. Understanding what made these symphonies great prepares one for a better understanding of what was to come. Great music did not stop with Beethoven, as it did not stop with Bach, Handel, or Mozart. Its all a wonderful voyage to be enjoyed, and I wouldn't denegrate any of the "Greats" just because I didn't find them engaging (any longer). If my post implied that you were ignorant, forgive me for my boorish behavior.
Well, to get back on topic, my favorite Beethoven symphony is the 8th. I've heard it described as a wallflower of a symphony sandwiched between 2 monumental giants, and I was of the same opinion until I heard Scherchen/LPO. If you can find it, give it a shot. It's touched by greatness.

Newbee...As usual this thread has strayed far from its original intent. I did identify my favorite, the 5th, as per the question of the thread. What stirred up all the talk was my suggestion that the others are not up to their godlike reputations, and I suggested Mozart as an equally good (sometimes better) composer. Of course that judgment is subjective, but I am not alone in my view.

As to the specific features that bother me, I referred to a "pompous" character, and I have in mind particularly the choral movement of the 9th. (Some other parts of his symphonies are beautiful). Also I expressed the more specific comment the choral movement begins well but lacks a satisfactory development. It was certainly innovative of Beethoven to introduce a chorus, but just imagine what Mozart would have done with it!

I vote with Pragmatist. My personal favorite is the 6th. The moods the movements evoke in me remind me of spring, meadows bathed in various shadings of new green, drenching thunderstorms that freshen the air, making everything light, sweet and new.
My favorite at this moment is 7th by C. Kleiber. I think we should start another thread to talk about Mozart. No point to talk about other composer in this thread, isn't it?
The comments about Mozart leave out what are certainly HIS greatest masterpieces: his OPERAS !!!
Opera is one place where Beethoven cannot be classified in the same league as Mozart.
I cannot praise Mozart's operas enough!!!
Tubegroover, I think all it comes to personal taste. I perfer Mozart's 35/36th over Jupitor. To me, 35 and 36 are more "Mozart". More nature sounding as Mozart's style. If I overplay Jupitor, maybe I will remember more melody. But the music never push me strongly enough to overplay it (I may have 3 different Jupitor recordings). But even then, I will not put them over Beethoven, Mahler, Bramhs,... I am talking about symphony. I love Mozart's opera too. But we are talking about symphony, aren't we?
Eldartford, Beethoven's Symphonies overrated?!! LOL...it's like if you told a jazz expert/lover Kind of Blue is overrated. haha

Kkursula, you said "Beethoven was great, but was depressed most of his life for not "being" Mozart"...quite interesting YOUR theory, I have never seen this in any of Beethoven's biographies I've read.

3rd symphony (1st,2nd and 4th movements), 5th symphony (1st and 4th movements), 6th symphony (1st, 2nd and 5th movements), 7th symphony (the whole symphony), 8th symphony (the whole symphony) and 9th symphony (the whole symphony!!!). What can I say...AMAZING MUSIC!

Happy listening.
My my...

For me, the 9th is tied with numbers 1 and 2 as my least favorites. I'm an unabashed Romantic. I love #3, 5, 6, and 7. Numbers 4 and 8 are a little lite-weight for me.

I like them all played strongly and not fast...no Toscanini for me!