Beethoven Symphony Basics at ESM

Symphony No. 4 in B-flat, Op. 60 (1806)

The Basics

General Information

Composition dates: 1806.

Dedication: Count Franz von Oppersdorff.

Instrumentation:  Strings, 1 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Cl, 2 Bsn, 2 Hn, 2 Tr, Timp.

First performance: March 1807, Lobkowitz Palace, Vienna. 

Orchestra size for first or early performance:  6+ winds.

Autograph Score: Staatsbibliothek, Berlin.

First published parts: March 1809, Bureau d’Arts et d’Industrie, Vienna.

First published score: 1821, Simrock.  Image of 1823 edition.


Movements (Tempos. Key. Form.)

I. Adagio—Allegro vivace (MM=66-80[160]). B-flat Major. Sonata-Allegro (w/ slow Intro.).

II. Adagio (MM=84). E-flat Major (IV). Sonata-allegro/(Rondo)/Variation.

III. Menuetto. Allegro vivace—Un poco meno mosso (MM=100—88). B-flat Major. Scherzo/Trio (ternary with extra repeats).

IV. Finale. Allegro ma non troppo (MM=80). B-flat Major. Sonata-Allegro.


Significance and Structure

The story of the Fourth Symphony’s dedication is tumultuous, confirming historical tales of Beethoven mistreating his dedicatees by switching dedications of works from one patron to another. The Fourth Symphony was composed at about the same time Beethoven famously parted ways with longtime patron Prince Karl Lichnowsky. Lichnowsky became an ardent supporter of Beethoven during his early years in Vienna, bestowing on him an annuity from 1800-1807. The relationship was broken when Beethoven refused Lichnowsky’s request to improvise at the piano for some dinner guests (French soldiers).  Upon being dismissed by the prince, the composer stormed out of the room, smashing a bust of the prince on the way out. In a reported letter of “apology” to Prince Lichnowsky, Beethoven famously wrote, “Prince, what you are you are through the accident of birth; What I am, I am through myself.” (Lockwood, Beethoven’s Symphonies, 84.)  Possibly at that same event at Licknowsky’s palace, Beethoven became acquainted with Silesian Count Franz Oppersdorff. Oppersdorff commissioned Beethoven for a couple of symphonies, paying him 500 florins.  After a delay caused by some crafty financial and dedicatory maneuvering, Beethoven eventually dedicated the Fourth Symphony to Oppersdorff, assuring Oppersdorff of exclusivity for six months, as was the practice. Even so, the first private performance of the work was given at the Lobkowitz Vienna home in March 1807, and Symphony No. 4 received its public premiere the following April in the Vienna Burgtheater. The publication of the parts by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1808 included the description, “a symphony, which I have written for [Count Oppersdorff].”  Count Opperdorff would never be given the agreed-upon second symphony.

Robert Schumann had an affinity for Symphony No. 4.  Unfortunately, his famous description of the work as “a slender Greek maiden between two Norse giants” in his book On Music and Musicians (ca. 1840), set forth an idea which would become the stereotype: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 is overshadowed and diminished in importance, sandwiched between the monumental Eroica and Fifth Symphonies (Lockwood, Beethoven’s Symphonies, 79). While it may not have the fame of its bookends, Schumann recognized that the Fourth shines forth in a noble simplicity that the Romantic period inherited from the Enlightenment. In terms of its proportions, it is well-made and beautifully wrought—“Greek” in its focus on beauty and artistic skill, and “slender” in its economy of materials and marvelously understated proportions. Hector Berlioz  would later say, “Here, Beethoven entirely abandons ode and elegy, in order to return to the less elevated and less somber, but not less difficult, style of the Second Symphony.  The general character of this score is either lively, alert, and gay or of a celestial sweetness.” Although many fans of Beethoven’s symphonies may still think this symphony is a kind of regression towards musical styles of the past, Schumann and Berlioz recognized that it holds a unique and independent position between the Third and Fifth Symphonies, standing on its own as a masterpiece worthy of the master symphonist.

The Classical economy of the symphony is most prominent in four aspects:

1) Smaller orchestral dimensions. Instrumentation is reduced, eliminating the third horn found in the Eroica, and using only one flute.  The single flute results in a less sonorous upper register in the woodwinds, but at the same time draws attention to the solo character of the flute.  An abundance of wind and even timpani solos add to this lightness of texture.

2) Compact structure when compared with Eroica. Although Symphony No. 4 is comprised of the standard four-movement form, as are all of Beethoven’s symphonies, the performance time of nearly an hour for the Eroica makes the typical 30-35 minutes performance time of the Fourth more economical.

3) More “Classical” approach to tonal relationships.  Beethoven follows key conventionality of his predecessors, staying in tonic B-flat major and going to the subdominant E-flat for the slow second movement, and development sections do not venture as far afield as in Eroica.

4) Fairly short composition time. Evidence shows that the composition was made in summer and fall of 1806, with only a few preliminary sketches extant.

Despite these more “Classical” techniques and proportions, Beethoven did experiment with some innovative ideas in the Fourth, thereby continuing to pursue his “new way” (see Beethoven’s Words essay regarding Symphony No. 3). Notable is the modal journey of the first movement’s introduction (0:00-2:40). Starting on a unison B-flat, the following G-flat starts the listener in a minor direction for over two minutes, before firmly concluding in B-flat major to launch into the Allegro vivace. This ambiguity and uneasiness would have raised eyebrows in Beethoven’s audiences. The journey through the minor mode, beginning with the G-flat, had long-term structural implications.  He used that G-flat moving to F (D-flat moving to C during sections in the dominant key of F) throughout not only the first movement, but the whole symphony; it permeates the Fourth as a subtle and colorful integrative motivic link akin to the short-short-short-long motive that would permeate Beethoven’s next Symphony No. 5.  This integration of the cycle using such a subtle motivic gesture is one of the clever structural elements that constitute the Grecian beauty Schumann alluded to in his comments about Symphony No. 4.

[We refer the reader to the following recording for the ensuing discussion: Gardiner conducts Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Beethoven: Symphony No. 4.]

The structural outline of Symphony No. 4 remains consistent with Beethoven’s earlier symphonies.   The movements are: Allegro vivace with an Adagio introductionAdagio, an Allegro vivace Scherzo, and a brisk Allegro ma non troppo finale.  The musical texture of the first movement’s introduction (0:00-2:35) is hushed and introspective, with a dark and interesting tonal journey that evades the key of the symphony—B-flat major—by emphasizing its minor mode.  This creates an astounding contrast of color between the introduction and the following Allegro vivace. Carl Maria von Weber once sarcastically complained about the introduction’s steady, almost motionless progression: “Every quarter of an hour we hear three or four notes.” (Grove, Beethoven and His Nine Symphonies, 101-02.)  The introduction starts with a tutti unison B-flat. While the winds sustain the B-flat, the strings play a succession of descending thirds in unison, which determines the b-flat minor key horizontally but not vertically. To create the contrasting atmosphere between the introduction and the later section, Beethoven avoided announcing the B-flat major key until the end of the introduction. Instead, the music shifts from B-flat minor to B minor (1:13) using the common tone G-flat/F-sharp. The dominant chord of the home key B-flat major finally appears (2:19) at the end of the introduction and rushes to the Allegro vivace with help from 32nd quintuplets in the violins, creating a fine connection between the introduction and the first theme.  Such streams of contrasting rhythmic activity become characteristic of the whole symphony. 

The Allegro vivace is full of dynamic and textural contrasts. The first theme (2:35-2:54) contains two juxtaposed gestures, starting with the lively arpeggiated chords on the first violin, responded to by a lyrical stepwise melody played by woodwinds. The two motives provide a firm basis for the development section. After the transition’arrival on the dominant (4:48), the suggestion of a second theme (5:30-5:40) in the dominant is introduced by solo woodwinds, starting with bassoon, then oboe and flute.  But it is destabilized by a modulation to D minor, followed by an Eroica-inspired metric shift. This finally settles to a true, stable contrasting theme (5:58-6:12). The exposition ends with an exciting closing theme which recalls the syncopated rhythm from the transition section (6:27-6:35). The development section (6:36-8:36) begins with the two contrasting gestures from the first theme. Again calling on lessons learned from the Eroica, and the tertian key relationships of the Second Symphony (see essay on Symphony No. 2), Beethoven introduced a melodic four-bar new theme in D major (7:01-7:17) that continues to modulate to different keys, as had the pseudo-second theme in the exposition. After the conversation of the new theme between the strings and the woodwinds, music arrives at a G-flat chord, recalling the introduction, and then modulates back to B-flat, creating both the harmonic and emotional resolutions in a soft dynamic. In a twist of orchestral genius, Beethoven interjects a timpani roll on B-flat for 22 measures while the strings play the rising sixteenth-note fragments, creating an extraordinary long crescendo and a grand welcome to the recapitulation.  The recapitulation and coda (8:36-10:56) are much shorter and more direct than in the Eroica; one might say they bring the movement to a slender conclusion.

The Adagio second movement (10:57-20:18) is in sonata form, combining a sonata-style and chamber character with more obvious symphonic gestures. It starts with an opening dotted ostinato (10:57-11:03) pattern leading to a contrasting lovely, song-like cantabile theme, (11:03-12:22) unfolding from the string ensemble to the tutti in its first statement, and echoed by the woodwinds in the second statement. The underpinning of this cantabile melody with the rhythmically more intense ostinato pattern creates a sense of reminiscence, not unlike the middle major-mode section of the marcia funebre narrative of Eroica.  The clarinet solo of the second theme (13:11-13:55) continues this sense of nostalgia. It is worth noting that the opening ostinato continues through the entire movement, sometimes as background to vocally-modelled themes, sometimes coming to the foreground as the main idea, including Beethoven again calling on the timpani: once before the recapitulation (16:35) and again just before the fortissimo conclusion (20:20).

By 1806 it had become Beethoven’s (and others’) practice to write a scherzo third movement (20:20-25:36). Even so, and although the character of Symphony No. 4 recalls the Classical symphony, Beethoven continued to find ways to expand the last two movements of the cycle. Here, the standard A-B-A ternary form is stretched to a five-part form: Scherzo—Trio—Scherzo—Trio—Scherzo (with a brief coda). Upbeat and surprising rhythmic patterns thrust the scherzo forward with a light and lively character, followed by call-and-response between the woodwinds and the strings. The slurred two-note gestures introduced by first violins at the beginning of the movement dominate the second half of the scherzo. The Trio relaxes into a marked “un poco meno Allegro” tempo, creating a smooth and dolce pastoral atmosphere highlighted by Harmoniemusik, as in earlier symphonies, while the strings comment with accompanying texture in the background. The G-flat—to—F motion from the first movement is repeatedly emphasized in this movement, integrating the cycle: in the second half of the scherzo (21:13-22:09) the two notes end the slurred phrase; in the trio section (22:09-23:11), the string accompaniment starts on the fragmentation of the F and G-flat, creating a subtle and beautiful moment reminiscent of the first movement.

The Allegro ma non troppo finale (25:37-end) is full of energy and excitement.  Brisk sixteenth-notes permeate this duple meter movement, generating a moto perpetuo.  Similar to the previous movements, the thematic musical gesture G-flat—to—F appears frequently in the finale. The first theme (25:37-25:58) announces the start of the movement with the vivid sixteenth-notes in the strings, and interrupted by tutti chords. By contrast, the second theme (26:08-26:30) starts in the woodwinds, with the oboe and flute solo playing the dolce melody and accompanied by triplets in the clarinet. The energy of the first theme comes from the entire orchestra, whereas the beauty of the second theme is expressed from the dialogue between different instrumental groups and solo passages. In another orchestral surprise parallel to the timpani solos, the solo bassoon (22:30-22:34) introduces the first theme in the recapitulation. This bassoon theme is called “the great bassoon joke” by some, and “24 notes to glory” by many other bassoonists. With the special timbre of this low woodwind instrument, marked dolce, the unexpected instrumentation recalls the comic finales of Classical symphonies, particularly those of Papa Haydn, and Beethoven’s own Second Symphony. The same gesture appears as a clarinet solo (30:59-31:03) in the expansive coda (30:44-end), a lively and uplifting last-movement summary of the themes, and some final resolutions of G-flat—to—F idea. As a last comic wink, the cellos and basses muddle through the sixteenth-note thematic material (31:19-31:26), followed by three comic fermatas interrupting solo passages (31:42-31:52), and the symphony rushes to a brilliant descending-scale close.

Contributors: JF, YLi, ZW, MER


Beethoven’s Words

“For a long period a certain event made me despair of ever achieving any happiness during my life on this earth—but now things are no longer so bad. I have won your heart. . . to founding my happiness by means of your love—to increasing it—Oh, beloved J[osephine], it is no desire to the other sex that draws me to you, no, it is just you, your whole self with all your individual qualities—this has compelled my regard—this has bound all my feelings—all my emotional power to you.” Beethoven letter to Josephine Deym (née Brunsvik), spring 1805. (Anderson, Vol. I, letter 110.)


In the context of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, the audiences tend to focus on his heroic symphonies that expressed his maturity, but Symphony No. 4 surprisingly shows the joyful side of Beethoven, who at the time of its composition was fiercely in love with Josephine Brunsvik. Several love letters as the one above were written to Josephine at around the time Beethoven began work on the Symphony No. 4.  In 1803, the famous Symphony No. 3 appeared to the public, showing Beethoven’s “new way” that emphasized the heroic ideal, and arguably placing himself in the role of the tragic warrior who fought against the fate of suffering through his hearing loss, as expressed in the Heiligenstadt Testament.  Many have suggested that the heroic overcoming of this despair is the true topic of the Eroica Symphony, with Beethoven himself being the hero of the story. The nineteenth-century concept of the artistic hero, and the attachment of the composer’s own biography to his artistic output, would generate the expectation that Beethoven would have to continue along the heroic, gargantuan path of Eroica.  But instead, Symphony No. 4 presented an entirely different image, with witty contrasts and comedic ideas, and a focus more on artistic beauty rather than sublime effects.  In contrast to the Eroica and the Fifth, in which Beethoven expanded the orchestral resources through additional wind instruments, in the Fourth he reduced the scoring to the level of Haydn and Mozart. Additionally, the proportions of musical materials are more moderate.  Other than that, the musical contents even display deep personal emotion which fits in the style of Romantic.  Robert Schumann seems to have recognized this, as discussed in the essay above, when he labelled the Fourth Symphony, “a slender Greek maiden between two Norse giants.” Berlioz claims, too, that “Beethoven forsakes here [in Symphony No. 4] completely the tones of epic and elegy to return to the less elevated, less sombre . . . the tone of this score is generally lively, alert, and joyful, or of heavenly gentleness.” Perhaps the beauty and moderation of this Greek maiden reflects a joy he felt in his relationship with Josephine Brunsvik, as expressed in the 1805 letter.

Beethoven was never married, but he had several relationships with different women who were of the aristocratic class or already married, thus out of Beethoven’s reach. The romantic relationship with Josephine Brunsvik certainly played an important role in Beethoven’s life, and Josephine has been put forth as the prime suspect for being Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved.” In 1957, Joseph Schmidt-Gorg published thirteen love letters written by Beethoven to Josephine between 1804-1809. These were later published in English translation by Emily Anderson in her book The Letters of Beethoven. Josephine was Beethoven’s piano student, and it can be assumed that Beethoven had fallen in love with Josephine shortly after they met. According to Marie-Elisabeth Tellenbach, “Considering Beethoven’s spontaneous behavior in 1799 the many lessons with which he honored Josephine, the house concerts he willingly performed, one can assume that she had aroused his interest immediately.” (Tellenbach, Beethoven and His Immortal Beloved . . . , 59.) Josephine married Count Joseph Deym in 1799 in order to maintain social standing. Beethoven’s love for Josephine was hidden during her marriage: “hope had in the formation of a love passion. Beethoven did not permit himself such a hope regarding Josephine during the lifetime of her husband.” (Tellenbach, 60.) However, Josephine unexpectedly became a widow after count Deym died in 1804, and so “hope and love” entered Beethoven’s life again. Therefore, “the change of the external situation changed for Beethoven also the internal…now the word “hope” appeared frequently and in important places.” (Tellenbach, 61.) As the letters stated, love entered Beethoven’s life with hope, his mindset was changed from a tragic self to a sweet lover.

The second movement of Symphony No. 4 implicitly evokes its Romantic feeling through graceful cantabile melodies to completely express the sustained lyricism. The gentle song-like melodies differentiate themselves from the funeral march in the Eroica, and the famous slow movement of Symphony No. 2. Among all his slow movements in the symphonies, this Adagio fully anticipates the Romantics idea that will appear four decades later. One could argue that the second movement presented the ease in his soul after falling in love with Josephine Brunsvik. As discussed in the above essay, a sense of calm reminiscence seems to permeate the movement, as the lyrical melodies will allow the more urgent dotted rhythms which generally accompany them to take a moment in the foreground. Is this reminiscence one of Josephine?  Whether or not this direct connection can be made, she could have influenced Beethoven’s middle-period compositions, including many pieces dedicated to Josephine and her sister Theresa, towards an expressive and personal Romantic quality.

Contributors: JC, ST, MER


Others’ Words

“Overall, the work is cheerful, comprehensible, and very engaging, and approaches more this master’s Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 than Nos. 5 and 6. In our energized enthusiasm, we would like most to place it together with No. 2; the occasional strange turns and [those] that impede the effect rather than enhancing it, with which B. has lately driven some players away and some listeners crazy, are not in abundance here.” Reviewer in AMZ 23 January 1811. (Brown, The Symphonic Repertoire Vol. II, 484.)


This AMZ reviewer of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony suggests two perspectives: 1) it is a relatively conservative symphony that is not as heroic and revolutionary as its adjacent symphonic works such as the Third, Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, with structure and instrumentation leaning towards the traditional; 2) but at the same time, it is an enjoyable and pleasing work that received more appreciation from its audience than had its more closely-related siblings, the First and Second Symphonies.

Compared with the Eroica Symphony, the Symphony No. 4 presents a retreat in terms of the scale of structure and orchestration. Perhaps this is because of the public’s not-so-enthusiastic response to Eroica’s ambitiousness. The performing forces for the Fourth Symphony are the smallest among all of Beethoven’s symphonies, calling for only one flute and no additional instruments beyond those of the typical Classical symphony.  From an instrumentation standpoint, then, the Fourth is rooted in the tradition of symphonies by Haydn and Mozart.  The above essay “Significance and Structure” discusses this in more detail.

Even before the Eroica Symphony, however, Beethoven’s First and Second Symphonies were criticized for their untraditional use of harmonies and experiments with instrumental timbers. These experiments were quite challenging for the listeners of the time who were used to the traditions created by earlier symphony composers such as Haydn and Mozart. But although formally and stylistically very similar to the first two symphonies, the Fourth Symphony received wide acceptance after the stunning Eroica Symphony. Why?  Beethoven did not stop experimenting with new ideas and possibilities for the symphonic genre.  Perhaps the solution was that the unusual and experimental formal and instrumental elements in the Fourth Symphony were not presented in ways that abruptly called attention to them, creating an unrelenting sublime aesthetic, as in the Eroica, but instead the revolutionary elements were more subtle, with Beethoven weaving them into the music in a much smoother way, achieving a more beautiful aesthetic.

The introduction section to the first movement can serve as a good example of this aspect. Unlike the tonal ambiguity presented in the First Symphony’s slow introduction, the tonal center in the Fourth Symphony’s introduction seems much clearer from the very beginning, but this is deceptive. Beethoven plays with the audience’s ears by implying the tonic’s minor mode. When the music arrives at the B-flat major at the end of the opening, it surprises its audience, but only mildly, because Beethoven’s contrapuntal skill and use of instrumental colors smoothed away the ambiguous edges. Most notable, the G-flat introduced in the second bar, taking the listener to b-flat minor, resolves down to an F the first time it is stated, keeping the material close to the B-flat tonality.  But on its repeat, the G-flat is rewritten to function as an F-sharp, remaining then ½ step higher, to the distant key of B minor. One can hardly recognize this change without studying the score.  Another demonstration of this harmonic subtlety and smoothness occurs in the slow harmonic rhythm of the development section of the first movement. According to Charles Rosen, the typical development section of a sonata form should have rapid modulations and “never give the impression of a second tonality as strong as the dominant.” (Ferraguto, Beethoven 1806, 40.) Here in the Fourth Symphony’s development section, the power that pushes the music forward is the repetition of motifs rather than an active harmony, which is reiterated for long periods of time without change.

The joy and pleasure of this symphony comes from its spirit of optimism. Beethoven completed most of his Fourth Symphony when he was a guest of Prince Lichnowsky in Grätz. He appeared to overcome the suicidal despair over his deafness that was expressed in the Heiligenstadt Testament, and arguably in the Eroica Symphony. In the sketch made when he was in Grätz, he wrote: Just as you plunge yourself here into the whirlpool of society, so in spite of all social obstacles it is possible for you to write operas. Your deafness shall be a secret no more, even where art is involved.”  Symphony No. 4 is often neglected by historians and scholars. Formally and spiritually, it is not as revolutionary as its adjacent symphonies, but it proved less controversial than the First and Second Symphonies. Undoubtedly, it is a well-rounded work that shows another side of Beethoven’s compositional maturity in his middle period.

Contributors: WM, WZ, MER


Topics and readings for further inquiry

General Commentary
Ferraguto, Mark Christopher. “Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony: Reception, Aesthetics, Performance History.” PhD Dissertation, Cornell University, 2012.

Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved”
Tellenbach, Marie-Elisabeth, and John E. Klapproth. Beethoven and His Immortal Beloved Josephine Brunsvik: Her Fate and the Influence on Beethoven’s Oeuvre. John E. Klapproth, 2014.

Schumann’s comments on Beethoven
Schumann, Robert. On Music and Musicians (1834-1844). Translated Fanny Raymond Ritter.  London: William Reeves, 1891.

Comparison of even- and odd-numbered symphonies
Huscher, Phillip. “Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60.” Chicago Symphony Orchestra Program Notes. Accessed 07/13/2020.

“Discovering Music” by BBC Radio 3. 
25-minute video clip that explores the importance of Symphony No. 4 when it is regarded as less challenging than nos. 3 and 5.

Cleveland Orchestra “Prometheus Project”
An interesting discussion of the Fourth Symphony by Alexander Lawler, placing it in the context of other works composed around the same time, and early Romantic artistic principles.

The Sublime and Beautiful
Youtube video:  Burke on the Sublime.

 Burke, Edmund. A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. London, 1757. 

 “18th Century German Aesthetics.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Jan. 16, 2007, rev. July 13, 2020.  Accessed 07/15/2020.

Tymoczko, Dmitry. “Arts in Society: The Sublime in Beethoven.” Boston Review 1 Dec. 1999. Accessed 07/15/2020. Somewhat more concise and accessible than the Stanford Encyclopedia. Burnham, Scott. Beethoven Hero. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.


Online resources

First and Early editions of Scores and Parts
First edition of Parts: March 1809, Bureau d’Arts et d’Industrie, Vienna.

Early edition of the Score:Simrock, 1823 edition

Modern scores
Dover Edition,  edited by Henry Charles Litolff

CCARH, 2008, with measure numbers

Online Recordings
Period/HIP recordings—
Gardiner conducts Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique

Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Harnoncourt
1st movement, 2nd movement, 3rd movement, 4th movement
Complete set of Beethoven Symphonies

Orchestra of the 18th Century, Brüggen
1st movement, 2nd movement, 3rd movement, 4th movement
Complete Set of Beethoven Symphonies by Orchestra of the 18th Century and Brüggen

Norrington, London Classical Players. Beethoven, Symphony No. 4, mvt. I.

Modern orchestra recordings—
Bernstein conducts Wiener Philharmoniker, 1978 live, with the conductor’s commentary.

Carlos Kleiber conducts Concertgebouw Orchestra

Daniel Barenboim conducts the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, BBC Proms 2012 live

Christian Thielemann conducts Wiener Philharmoniker

Descriptions available online (videos, program notes, etc., with links)
Program notes by New York Philharmonic. 
Gives basic information about the symphony and explains a specific moment in the finale where bassoon makes a solo appearance playing the main theme.

Program notes by BBC Proms.
Describes the surrounding history when the symphony was written. It also compares the slow introduction to that of Haydn’s oratorio, “The Creation.” Overall, it is easily written for the general public.

Steve Ledbetter, program notes from Aspen Music Festival.
Program notes with detailed descriptions of each movement. With slight technical terms, it is still easy enough to be read by the general public.

Commentary by Gardiner: Symphony No. 4: Composing for all eternity.
Gardiner talks about his understanding of this symphony as a pairing of the “Eroica”.

Comments by Hector Berlioz, from “A Critical Study of Beethoven’s Nine Symphonies”.

“Discovering Music” by BBC Radio 3. 
25-minute video clip that explores the importance of Symphony No. 4 when it is regarded as less challenging than Nos. 3 and 5.

Cleveland Orchestra “Prometheus Project”
An interesting discussion of the Fourth Symphony by Alexander Lawler, placing it in the context of other works composed around the same time, and early Romantic artistic principles.