Beethoven Writes His Second Symphony

Symphony No. 2 in D major, op.36 was elaborated in the summer of 1802 in Heilligenstadt when Beethoven was fighting to get control over his life.

In this period he will write his famous letter to his brothers known under the name of The Heilligenstadt Testament expressing the two attitudes so often found in the composer’s work: resignation in the face of death which he feels is so close and the revolt of a man who loved people in general, who was passionate about art and who was ambitious and eager to succeed. But even so, few instances betray the composer’s horrible turmoil. The themes of Part I are of an incredible vigor simulating a "joyful fanfare aria" , and the mirthfulness of the finale stand as proof of the vigor he had despite everything.

It was performed in first audition with the composer himself as the conductor in Vienna on April 5th 1803, and can be justly considered "a touching addition to the Heilligenstadt Testament."

Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 in D major (Op. 36) was written between 1801 and 1802 and is dedicated to Prince Lichnowsky.

It was mostly written during Beethoven's stay at Heiligenstadt in 1802, at which time his deafness was becoming more apparent and he began to realize that it might be incurable. The work was premiered in the Theater an der Wien in Vienna on April 5, 1803, and was conducted by the composer. During that same concert, the Third Piano Concerto and the oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives were also debuted. It is one of the last works of Beethoven's so-called "early period".

Beethoven breaks the rules still further in the Second Symphony. He calls the third movement a Scherzo (literally, a Joke), the first time any movement of any symphony had been thus labelled. The normal title was Minuet, clearly an old-fashioned concept for Beethoven. The opening of the final movement, like a succession of coiled springs, must have stunned his first audience, and still brings us up short today.