From the beginnings of Symphony to Beethoven: a Paradigm of European Construction

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During the first half of the 18th century the European music scene is characterized by different instrumental styles with a clear national shape, result of the turbulent previous century, that will converge in the creation of the instrumental language that allowed the most important music form in the orchestral genre: symphony. The masterpieces that established the basis of the symphonic genre since then, Haydn and Mozart essentially, will not be the same without the synthesis of styles along the century. Non-musical elements (philosophical, politics, socials, etc.) affected directly the search of a European style that combined harmonically the best of each national tradition in order to build a language that constitute one of the most important productions in our musical history. Once reached the process and known the dramatic consequences of this rational dream that tried to enlighten the European society, so well-illustrated by Goya, Beethoven was able to overcome the emptiness created by the big disappointment of such high ideals, and was able to blend in his last symphony all the original elements of the 18th century tradition and create a universe of sound that retakes some of the most beautiful model of our cultural development. Beyond Schiller’ words, this article tries to underline the compositive elements integrated in Beethoven’s most famous symphony as an inspiring example to get over nationalism and the conflicts that reappear today in our common European context.


National tradition, european style, synthesis, symphonic instrumental language, Haydn, Mozart, Schiller, Beethoven, Goya.

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