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Harvard University

First Nights - Beethoven's 9th Symphony and the 19th Century Orchestra

Harvard University via edX


Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony premiered in Vienna in 1824, and continues to be one of the most popular symphonies in the repertoire. The monumental symphony’s size and complexity stretches traditional instrumental forms to the breaking point, and its famous choral finale changed our view of orchestral music forever.

Harvard’s Thomas Forrest Kelly (Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music) guides learners through all four movements of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, highlighting aspects of symphonic form, describing Beethoven’s composition process, the rehearsals and premiere performance, and the work’s continued relevance today.

You will learn the basics of musical form and analysis, the genres and styles used and the circumstances of this symphony’s first performance and subsequent history. Learners in this course need not have any prior musical experience.

Additional First Nights Modules:
Monteverdi's L'Orfeo and the Birth of Opera
Handel’s Messiah and Baroque Oratorio
Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony"
Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique and Program Music in the 19th Century
Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring: Modernism, Ballet, and Riots

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Taught by

Thomas Forrest Kelly


5.0 rating, based on 4 Class Central reviews

Start your review of First Nights - Beethoven's 9th Symphony and the 19th Century Orchestra

  • It is a course about the beethoven's ninth symphony. It explains how the symphony works and the circumstances of this creation and debuts.
  • I've enrolled into this course after being thrilled while taking the Handel one. Professor Kelly's passion is outweighed only by his knowledge, and his methodological and pedagogical ability to transfer this knowledge is simply astounding. In this course you can learn (or refresh your memory) about the basic of a symphony, and then you'll dive into the wonderful world of the 9th symphony: its history, cultural context, structure, performers, and magnificent details about the premiere. A must-take course, can't wait for others in the series.
  • It certainly gives a nice introduction of Beethoven Ninth Symphony.

    I hope that more explanation can be given to the philosophical meaning of this symphony.

    It includes a simple music theory course also. But, I have to admit that I can't understand all of the concepts layout.

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