In a nutshell beethoven slows down the harmonic

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In a nutshell, Beethoven slows down the harmonic rhythm—the rate of chord changes—toa near standstill. Early in the Development, he lingers on the B-flat major triad (B-flat, D, F), using the “motto” rhythmic motive to animate the music over an otherwise static harmony.Then the real magic comes when he “modulates” up a third to the D major triad (D, F-sharp, A), using the third of the B-flat major triad, the pitch D, as a common tone between the two chords. (You can track this change by following the double bass part in the score.) The effect is glorious! Let’s listen.Shortly thereafter, Beethoven conjures a similar magic, using the pitch B as a common tone, this time to move down a third, from the G major triad (G, B, D) to the E major triad (E, G-sharp, B). Once again, the effect is stunning!Following the E major passage, the “motto” theme appears in A major, and then a four-bar themeemerges—it’s the counter-motive we heard initially in mm. 9-16. Using this “counter-motive” as a theme, Beethoven continues a harmonic progression of falling fifths, with root motion descending from A to D to G to C, and finally back to the home key of F major.
And still, Beethoven has one last moment of exquisite magic in the Development. He prepares us for the Recapitulation, not with the expected C major dominant harmony (V), instead falling one more fifth from tonic, to the subdominant harmony (IV), B-flat major. It is a moment of sublime, transcendent release.Let’s pick up the Development section toward the end of the D major passage we just heard, and listen to the remainder of the Development with the score, continuing through the first five bars of the Recapitulation, so that we hear the return of the opening motto which marks the beginning of the Recapitulation.In the Recapitulationand Codaof the first movement of the Sixth Symphony, Beethoven demonstrates that he has transcended the Classical style, and there is no turning back. Yes, the themes of the Secondary Tonal Area are recapitulated in the tonic key, as expected. But nothing is quite the way it was before. Beethoven can barely bring himself to repeat any of his previous music literally, although we do hear a fairly literal repetition of the “motto” theme from the Principal Tonal Area (7:51- 8:08). And when he has recapitulated all the material from the Exposition, he gives us a Coda that is farmore than the “tail” we would expect in the Classical style.The “continuous development” of his thematic material continues through the Coda (9:37-11:27), and yet these final two minutes of music provide a most satisfying conclusion to the movement. To get the best perspective on this section, let’s listen again to the entire movement. This is not only an opportunity to enjoy the music, but also to practice informed listening—to listen for these structural markers and “hear” the formal organization of the music with which weare now familiar.

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