The Critics vs. Beethoven

Today, we think of Ludwig van Beethoven’s nine symphonies as masterpieces.  But this mentality was not as widespread when these works were first performed nearly 200 years ago.  Indeed, the critics of the time generally panned Beethoven’s symphonies, sometimes rather harshly.

Beethoven composed his First Symphony in 1800 and premiered it the same year on April 2nd.  Criticism of this symphony was quite unfavorable on its first performances.  Leading critics of the time, including Joseph Preindl, the Abbé Stadler, and Dionys Weber, were quite upset by the fact that the introduction to the first movement began with what was then considered a “discord.”   Another critic described the work as “a caricature of Haydn pushed to absurdity.”  Some years later, however, the reviewers had reversed their position on this work and even Carl Maria von Weber, one of the severest critics of Beethoven’s symphonies, spoke highly of it.

Read the rest (and much more) in my book Writing and Living in the Real World: Advice for Young Composers



  1. Great post–very educational, though very well written and accesible. I had a funny synchronicity. Right before I read your post, I used this creativity program called “Whack Pack.” It gave me this random idea:

    The point was how important it is to hold to your new ideas even if other people criticize them. People don’t like change and the new often upsets their world order. To find two related topics on the web, was really satisfying. All the best.

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