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The Fifth is one of the most popular and performed symphonies in the entire classical music repertoire. The Fourth is far less known, but a delightful work.

Beethoven began composing his Fourth Symphony after he had started work on his Fifth. Though lessknown that the symphonies before and after it, the Fourth is charming and cheerful. Romantic composer Robert Schumann called it “a slender Grecian maiden between two Nordic giants.”

Beethoven wrote his famous Fifth Symphony between 1804 and 1808. The four-note opening motif is known worldwide, often appearing in popular culture – from disco versions and rock and roll covers to film and television scores.

It is commonly thought that this motif is said to be fate knocking on the door, although there is little evidence that this was what Beethoven had intended. Author and music critic E.T.A. Hoffman, a contemporary of Beethoven’s, wrote that the Fifth Symphony “sets in motion the machinery of awe, of fear, of terror, of pain, and awakens that infinite yearning which is the essence of romanticism”.

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