Introduction

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.

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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.

What you'll learn:

  • Identify and describe the forms of 18th- and 19th- century orchestral music
  • Understand the instruments and voices of the orchestra and choir
  • Appreciate cultural context and performance circumstances of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony

Additional First Nights Modules:

Meet The Faculty

Thomas Forrest Kelly

Thomas Forrest Kelly

Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music

Tom Kelly is the Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music at Harvard University. Professor Kelly received his B.A. from Chapel Hill; spent two years on a Fulbright in France studying musicology, chant, and organ. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard (1973) with a dissertation on office tropes. He has taught at Wellesley, Smith, Amherst, and at Oberlin, where he directed the Historical Performance Program and served as acting Dean of the Conservatory. He was named a Harvard College Professor in 2000 and the Morton B. Knafel Professor of Music in 2001. 

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