Regarding the concert report, the ninth symphony, Song of Joy by Beethoven, which is a” Classic” piece, emerged as the preferable choice. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra orchestrated this performance in 2015. The performance lasted one hour and 21 minutes and took place at The Music Hall in Chicago, Illinois (Chicago Symphony Orchestra). A little background of Beethoven’s ninth symphony is that it was advanced and complex for the time it was written, requiring a much bigger orchestra and several vocals. Beethoven is among the first leading composers to incorporate vocals into an orchestra concert, which is one of the driving factors behind Symphony No. 9 being so popular.
The performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra took place at Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center in Chicago, Illinois. The orchestra’s strings, woodwinds, and brass instruments were reminiscent of the Classical Music Period. Before the event began, the orchestra was placed on the stage. The Chicago Symphony Chorus, soprano, alto, tenor, and bass choir, with four solo vocalists, was also situated behind the orchestra. The chorus clothed men in black tuxedos and women in long black dresses, although there were two women at the front leading soprano voices, one in a pink dress and the other in a red dress.
From the website, it is undoubtedly that the performance conductor was Riccardo Muti. Much information about him needed to be included, but after researching, I discovered that Muti was a well-known Italian conductor with two music directorships. The most notable being at Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Illinois.
The classical piece was presented in four movements, with each one increasing intensity as the counterparts changed. The first movement begins with an allegro tempo, with the orchestra increasing and growing into a bold and confident tone. The symphony is composed in the D primary Key and is usually performed at a frequency of 72 beats in a minute. The tempo in the second movement is in vivace, which is slightly faster than allegro; the music begins with a somber and stoic tone but progressively changes to a more gentle and playful tone; after some research, I discovered that the second movement is “Scherzo,” which is Italian for playful. Another reason for the symphony’s popularity was Beethoven’s ability to combine tone and melody within the instruments, all while conveying the rhythm’s playful mood.
Regarding movement three, the music’s tempo is adagio and steadily slows from movement two’s tempo. From what I heard and researched, there was no true significance behind adagio apart from its ability to produce an in-depth dynamic range. I appreciated the tempo change as the mood shifted from lighthearted and playful to melodramatic (Shiflett 17). Moving on to the final and fourth movement, the prominence of the chorus made this my favorite portion of the performance. Integrating a chorus in an orchestra concert was unusual, but Beethoven had to have an approach to making a statement with his music. Additionally, the movement is immensely popular due to the “Ode to Joy” theme depicted within the chorus. The music returns from its low pace and goes directly into an allegro tempo.
I was amazed after watching the live concert. I had never attended a professional orchestra performance before, and watching every movement of this piece was exhilarating. According to John von Rhein, a Chicago Tribune music writer, “…musicians delivered their chief with all the accurate attacks and releases, the balanced chording and vivid articulation he inquired” (Chicago Symphony Orchestra). The musicians recognized their parts, and each played brilliantly with one other. The strings are some of my favorite components of any symphony.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra (2015, May 7) Beethoven 9 – Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Riccardo Muti. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOjHhS5MtvA (Accessed: December 8, 2022).
Shiflett, C. (2021) “The Ninth Symphony of Beethoven, its rich history,” Current Musicology, 107, pp. 6–28. Available at: https://doi.org/10.52214/cm.v107i.7136.