Beethoven Symphony Basics at ESM

Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 93 (1813)

The Basics

General Information

Composition dates: 1811-12.

Dedication: None.

Instrumentation: Strings, 2 Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Cl, 2 Bsn, 2 n, 2 Tr, Timp (tuned in octave Fs in IV).

First performance: 27 February 1814, Akademie at palace Redoutensaal, Vienna (incl.  No. 7, Wellington’s Victory).

Orchestra size for first or early performance: 18+ winds (based on LvB description).

Autograph Score: Staatsbibliothek, Berlin (I, II, IV), and Biblioteka Jagiellońska, Kraków (III).

First published parts:  Dec. 1816, S. A. Steiner & Co., Vienna.

First published score:  Dec. 1816, S. A. Steiner & Co., Vienna. Link


Movements (Tempos. Key. Form.)

I. Allegro vivace e con brio (MM=69). F Major. Sonata-Allegro (no slow intro.)

II. Allegretto scherzando (MM=88). B-flat Major (IV). Sonatina (Type 1 Sonata).

III. Tempo di Menuetto (MM=126). F Major. Scherzo/Trio (ternary).

IV. Finale. Allegro vivace (MM=84 [168]). F Major. Sonata-Allegro (no slow intro.).


Significance and Structure

The colossal Fifth and reposed Sixth Symphonies of 1808 showed two approaches to the heroic of the genre, and with the near-simultaneous work on the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, Beethoven seems to continue to be inspired by characteristics that generate two sides of a coin in reshaping the dramatic possibilities of the symphonic genre, this time by “wield[ing] the rapier [Eighth] as well as the hammer [Seventh].” (Lockwood, Beethoven’s Symphonies, 172). It is the rapier of wit, drawing on the idea of scherzo, that best characterizes Beethoven’s reconsideration of the genre in the last symphony of his so-called Heroic period. 

One of the most significant developments Beethoven brought to the symphony he had inherited from Haydn and Mozart was to transform the Minuet and Trio movements that typified late eighteenth-century symphonies into Scherzos, which became central to the symphonies of Beethoven and many of his successors. Haydn himself prefigured this evolution in his string quartets, and he would say near the end of his life, “I wish someone would write a really new minuet.” As Elaine Sisman points out, “Although Haydn did not mention them, Beethoven’s scherzos are usually considered to be the consummation of Haydn’s wish.” (Sisman, “The Spirit of Mozart from Haydn’s Hands,” 49.) Scherzos are, by definition, humorous. They thwart conventions—traditionally those of tempo, meter, and phrase length—and in so doing aim to delight, but also bring special attention to the conventions by denying them. This is particularly exemplified in the third movements of Beethoven’s First, Second, and Fourth Symphonies, which tend towards a beautiful aesthetic, while the Third, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Symphonies expand and intensify the scherzo even further, with moments suggesting the sublime, essentially consigning the gallantry of the minuet to a faded memory.  While the scherzos of these latter symphonies suggest some sublime moments, as a rule they are not designed to overpower through an incomprehensible experience, but rather use the very fact that listeners can understand them by understanding what is unconventional about them, and through such novelty the audience experiences delight. In the Eighth Symphony, Beethoven expanded the scherzo character to encompass the entire symphony. Through unexpected structural twists, surprising rhythms and key relationships, and transparent orchestral textures, this symphony indeed recaptures some of the animating spirit of Beethoven’s First Symphony, “a salute to the symphonic ideal of a previous age” (“Beethoven,” Grove Music Online), while at the same time innovates using witty and subtle twists that thwart some of the basic expectations of the symphonic genre, and thereby call them into question for reconsideration, much as had earlier occurred with the scherzo begging reconsideration of the context of the minuet.  

1812 was emotionally tumultuous for Beethoven. His initial work on the Eighth Symphony coincided with a visit to his brother Johann in Linz, Austria, where the two quarreled over Johann’s relationship with Therese Obermeyer. Ludwig felt strongly that Therese was an unacceptable match for his brother—she had a daughter but was unmarried—and went to both religious and civil authorities to end their relationship. He was unsuccessful, and Johann married Obermeyer that November, driving a wedge between the Beethoven brothers.  Earlier the same year, Beethoven was consumed by his own romantic feelings, writing his infamous “Immortal Beloved” letter in July. Undiscovered until after his death, the beloved’s identity remains a matter of some debate; the two most common candidates are Antonie Brentano and Josephine Brunsvik. Regardless of the recipient, the letter is characteristic of Beethoven’s belief that he would never be romantically fulfilled. He wrote, “Can our love persist otherwise than through sacrifices, than by not demanding everything?… O God, why must one go away from what one loves so, and yet my life in W. as it is now is a miserable life?”

Although completed in just a few months at the end of 1812, the Eighth Symphony was not premiered until February 27, 1814, in Vienna. Critical reception was generally warm, but mixed, especially in comparison to the Seventh Symphony, had been become immediately praised following its premiere two months earlier; the audience insisted on an immediate encore of its second movement, and this trend continued in subsequent performances. (See Symphony No. 7 “Others’ Words” essay). The Seventh Symphony and the popular Wellington’s Victory were included on the same concert as the Eighth Symphony’s premiere.  As for the Eighth Symphony, Vienna’s Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung reported that “the applause which it received was not accompanied by that enthusiasm which distinguishes a work which gives universal delight; in short as the Italians say—it did not create a furor.” (Solomon, Beethoven, 214.) Beethoven, predictably, was undeterred by a lukewarm reception. As he remarked to Carl Czerny when asked why the Eighth was less popular, Beethoven explained that it was “because it is so much better.” (Lockwood, Beethoven’s Symphonies, 171.)

[We refer the reader to the following recording for the ensuing discussion: Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, John Eliot Gardiner, conducting; Beethoven: Symphony No. 8.]

Beethoven wrote a letter dated 15 August 1812 to his close friend Bettina Brentano, stating, “music ought to strike fire from the soul of a man.” Accordingly, his Eighth Symphony’s first movement (0:01-8:35) does not begin with ambiguous harmonies or a slow introduction, but with the curtains suddenly drawn wide with a complete statement of the first theme (0:01-0:13), a pleasantly playful Haydnesque melody in three equal parts: the full orchestra poses a question (four measures) that yields two responses, led first by the clarinets (four measures) then returning to the full orchestra (four measures). This straightforward opening hides an unusual phrase structure, as an “extra” questioning response played by the winds is inserted between the two matching four-measure tutti orchestra segments, thereby working against the stabilizing quality of a balanced eight-measure first theme. Haydn had used the same interruptive technique on many of his string quartet scherzos and symphonic minuets. The insertion is removed in the recapitulation’s opening (5:12-5:20), thus cluing the audience into the “real” theme (while twisting other elements, as will be discussed later).  From the very beginning, then, Beethoven cleverly used scherzo-like twists to call into question fundamental functions and expectations of each movement and their parts, and in doing so, breathed new life into the symphonic genre by uncovering and parodying its conventions. The rest of the exposition maintains the lighthearted perspective through rhythmic, harmonic, and dynamic surprises. High-spirited syncopated sforzando accents (0:29-0:40) are humorously followed by feeble responses in the strings and bassoons, and the transition overshoots its expected arrival on the dominant (C), leading instead to D major. However, the smooth, dance-like second theme (0:40-0:57) quickly reworks its way into a restatement in the “correct” key of C major. As with the first theme, Beethoven’s orchestration shows this structure, writing the D major statement in the strings and the C major “correction” in the woodwinds. Pompous hemiolas (1:17-1:38) then drive the light, twirling gestures to the exposition’s grand closing theme featuring an octave-leap motive (1:48-1:53) that would pervade the whole symphony.  

The development (3:40-5:12) incorporates the octave motive as the glue that binds together similar comical devices, but with greater tension. It begins with the violas softly continuing the oscillating octave motive from the exposition’s closing theme. Again and again, violent eruptions interrupt the dialogue. First-theme motives are sequenced and compressed until they overlap one another, while the winds, brass and timpani add forward momentum with syncopated chords emphasizing beat two—another scherzo trick of thwarting the real downbeats of the triple meter. This metric trick is continued by many entrances that occur one beat earlier than expected (such as in the cellos and basses, or winds). This gesture was often used in operas to show extreme anticipation and excitement, including the final chorus of Beethoven’s own Fidelio.  All of the momentum builds to the end of the retransition, where Beethoven throws his greatest curveball of the movement.  Traditionally, the recapitulation marks a moment of fulfillment in which the conflict created by the development is reconciled. Harmonies that lost their way find stability, and themes that were fragmented are restored. Beethoven prepares this occasion with all the familiar markers of an exciting retransition (5:05-5:12): the music escalates through fortissimo with stark accents, trills, running sixteenth notes, and tremolos, all leading to an even grander piu forte. However, when the tonic key finally arrives (5:12) the first theme, here played not by the high violins as at the beginning but by the lower cellos and basses, struggles to project through the bright violin and wind chords, and dominant-pitch c’s in the trumpets (in octaves) and more importantly, in the timpani as the lowest-sounding notes, make the arrival on the tonic chord a dissonance (in second inversion) requiring resolution. Some may argue that this climax nevertheless carries enough impact; after all, it is marked fff, a dynamic Beethoven used sparingly. However, that this version of the first theme is abbreviated from twelve to eight measures suggests that the “true” recapitulatory release of tension that is expected is not achieved until after the fff at the cadence of the “real” eight-measure first theme (5:17-5:21)—without the woodwind interruption—emphasized by the c’s in the trumpets and timpani resolving to the tonic (F). Then the first theme is reorchestrated for a full dolce statement in the winds—the interrupting instruments of the first theme at the beginning of the movement—conveying a more relaxed and satisfying resolution (5:21-5:30).  Despite its charming character, the coda (7:12-8:35) briefly revisits the notion of the sublime, first in the form of grandeur and again in the form of silence: following the expansion towards a triumphant dominant harmony sustained in fermatas (7:45-7:49), a second climb builds to three thumping chords that leave its audience in a full measure rest. Gradually shortened echoes then settle on F major chords, but at the very last moment, the start of the first theme makes a final appearance (8:29)—a cherry on top that concludes this movement the same way it began.

The expression marking of the second movement—Allegretto scherzando (8:40-12:25)—refers to the extended idea of scherzo even more explicitly. While Beethoven used allegretto for the second movement of Symphony No. 7, this is the first use of scherzando among his slow movements. Rather than a sincere and lyrical movement, Beethoven wrote faster, lighter, and more rhythmically intricate music that paints physical gestures in the style of comic opera, often mimicking laughter (8:40-8:49) and footfalls (9:42-10:00), even in the “serious” bass instruments. Also central to this movement is the sempre staccato ostinato “ticking” motive and a reduced orchestration, omitting the trumpets and timpani. While the winds and horns provide a steady pulse, contrasting themes appear in the strings: the first (8:42-9:28) delicate and petite; the second (9:33-10:29) slightly longer and more enthusiastic. The two halves of the first theme cleverly sit at different metric placements (i.e. the downbeats shift in each phrase), another common feature of scherzo movements. This short movement, written in sonatina form (sonata without development), consists of an A section, a varied repeat of the A section, and a coda. Despite lasting only seven measures, the final section (11:57-12:25) contains the most theatrical moments of comedy. Sheepish utterances by the strings to quiet but insistent questions exasperate the orchestra into sudden outbursts. When met with the same timid replies, the whole orchestra riles up from pp to ff in a fit of frustration and succinctly ends the conversation with vigorous repeated notes.

By this point, Beethoven’s wildly dynamic scherzo third movements had become customary. In his Symphony No. 8, however, he plays a “double joke” on his audience and composes a slower, more traditional dance movement for the third movement (12:27-17:52), even marking it Tempo di Menuetto.  But tempo marking notwithstanding, Beethoven humorously deployed a series of striking scherzo-like “mistakes” in the wind parts: misplaced entrances that begin right away, with the trumpet and timpani one measure too early, and continuing throughout. Most notably, at the end of the minuet (13:35-13:46) the brass, woodwinds, and timpani all disagree on the downbeat.  As an homage to earlier symphonies, Beethoven’s trio (14:36-15:42) depicts the pastoral with a wind ensemble, but it omits the flutes and oboes. Two horns join with a solo clarinet to play a simple theme over a light bass accompaniment. Although the strings briefly take over and sequence through lush harmonies, they quickly subside, and the foreground returns to its tranquil atmosphere. Ironically, the trio contains some of the most elongated, smooth melodic writing in the entire symphony.

Beethoven resumes his scherzo-like wit in the finale (17:55-end) through its laughing melodies, and by continuing to parody conventional structural and harmonic conventions. Most notably, recurring half-step displacements loom over the entire movement like a ghost in the background. This disturbance is first seen when a syncopated shift from C to C-sharp (18:06-18:10), marked ff, shatters the established pp at the end of the first theme and breaks into a bombastic transition to the second theme. While the transition prepares the dominant key of C with its own dominant (G), as if with the flick of a switch, the second theme (18:31-18:46) suddenly begins in A-flat major (another half-step displacement). As in the first movement, it quickly restates itself in the correct key, but this stability does not last for long. The closing section makes its way back to the tonic and, at its climax (18:56-19:01), suddenly comes to a halt, arriving again on the “wrong” key (the exposition traditionally ends on the dominant). From the ensuing silence, strings slowly emerge in what sounds like a repeat of the exposition but soon reveals itself as the development section. Thus, Beethoven repeatedly plays on expectations by leading the narrative astray at each turn. Following an otherwise fairly conventional development, the octave motive that has played a central role since the first movement leads back to the recapitulation (19:50-19:59). Highlighting the importance of the octave motive in the finale movement, Beethoven chose the unusual tuning of F’s an octave apart for the timpani, rather than the expected F (tonic) and C (dominant), and has the timpani play the octave motive (22:14-22:20) at several structural points, including leading to the second part of the coda. (He would use the same timpani tuning in the Ninth Symphony’s second movement.) The listener is caught off-guard once more by the extended coda, which occupies nearly half of the movement and remarkably includes a quasi-second development (21:24-22:08) and second recapitulation (22:08-23:13).  When the interrupting C-sharp makes its third appearance in the second recapitulation (22:28-22:31), it now persists; the looming ghost asserts itself in full force, pushing the music towards a stormy F-sharp minor presentation of the first theme (22:34-22:43), a half-step higher than it should be. A remarkable, unprepared shift down to the tonic F (22:40-22:46), emphasized by the return of the trumpets and timpani, serves as a wink to the listener that we have been in the wrong key for some time.  The reestablishment the proper key is confirmed by a statement of the lyrical second theme. Beethoven has one more jest, with the first theme again peeking out from the crowd, played by bassoons and horns marked piano, gradually fading into distant chordal echoes (23:18-23:22). A final swell to a grand completion, unmistakably signaled by the octave motive in the timpani and unyielding repeated F major chords in full orchestration (23:40-24:12), finally mark the end of the movement.

Contributors: AL, MC, ST, WM, MER


Beethoven’s Words

 “That’s because it is much better [than Symphony No. 7].”  Remark Beethoven made to Carl Czerny, when Czerny reported to Beethoven following the 27 December 1814 Redoutensaal Akademie that the audience was much less pleased with Symphony No. 8 than with Symphony No. 7. (Thayer, Life of Beethoven,  576.)


Similar to the Fifth and Sixth Symphony, the Seventh and Eighth Symphony seem to have been considered as paired together. Beethoven composed them both in the years 1811-12, as he continued to find ways to stretch the dramatic possibilities of the symphony. For the first audiences, the Eighth Symphony proved somewhat baffling because it did not seem to follow the heroic trajectory Beethoven had established between the Eroica and the Seventh Symphonies. Unlike the Seventh’s triumph and colossal style, in the Eighth Beethoven turned to subtle wit in his reworking of symphonic conventions. For example, the first movement has no slow introduction and the expectation of a tension-releasing double return at the recapitulation is turned sideways by a “wrong” harmony, there is no truly slow movement of the yearning, serious quality of his earlier second movements, the scherzo itself is marked Tempo di Menuetto, and the finale has its own quirks. (See above essay “Significance and Structure” for details.)  Thus, the character of the entire symphony is that of a giant scherzo, with Beethoven reconsidering of conventions throughout with an ironic tinge. But irony requires a deeper level of understanding than other types of comedy, and so the Eighth Symphony asked audiences for a higher degree of intellectual engagement in order to “get the jokes.”

For example, following Classical tradition, the first movement’s recapitulation occurs when both tonic key and first theme come back, the so-called double-return.  It functions to stabilize the harmony and structure after the “wandering” of the development section through various keys. Beethoven’s surprise at the recapitulation—the full orchestra playing fff, with the melody played in the bassoons, cellos, and basses, among a dissonant harmony (tonic chord in second inversion)—would probably have puzzled those in the audience with little knowledge of how symphonies worked, but delighted those who had some knowledge and experience with the genre. Once again, as with his earlier, more “heroic” symphonies, Beethoven continued to find the infinite possibilities in the various dramatic moments of the genre, here playing with the first movement structure with a subtle, tongue-in-cheek surprise.  Another harmonic game occurs in the finale movement, where at various places the musical material proves to occur a half-step above where it should be, only to easily, or abruptly, fall into its right place.  Again, for those in the audiences of the early performances with little musical training, such subtle “mistakes” would either go unnoticed or be baffling, while the experienced and knowledgeable among them would appreciate the “mistakes” and especially their corrections with a knowing grin.  In any case, such unusual harmonic moments show Beethoven’s great compositional skills in this symphony.

Beethoven’s works had been notable for their intricate and clever use of motives, and this trend continues in the Eighth Symphony.  The thematic/motivic processes found in Symphony No. 7 tended to extend motives, particular through the incessant use of specific rhythms. (Lockwood, Beethoven’s Symphonies,150-53.) Symphony No. 8, on the other hand, was more concerned with integrating motivic differences, rather than extending similarities. For example, the exposition of the first movement contains many contrasting motives that will eventually be brought together. The opening twelve-measure interrupted phrase itself contains different motivic ideas, in the second theme there is a three-measure syncopated dotted rhythm and a seven-measure lyrical flowing theme, and the closing theme introduces two other motives, a rising and falling arpeggio and an octave leap.  All of these continue to play roles in the remainder of the first movement, and in the entire symphony, but are bound together in a myriad of logical, yet subtle ways. The first movementdevelopment begins with a continuation of the octave leap motive leading to the motive from the movement’s first two measures, played in turn by bassoon, clarinet, oboe and flute. The entire orchestra then responds in a fortissimo, with the strings playing the rising and falling arpeggio motive from the end of the exposition. Thus, the development begins by combining a motive from beginning with two from the end of the exposition. There are two more large statements of the same motivic juxtaposition other keys, leading to a climax in the dominant of the home key.

With Symphony No. 8, Beethoven continued to explore and reconsider the possibilities of the genre. This symphony certainly seems to complement everything he had done before.  Like his petite Symphony No. 4 following the expansive Eroica, after the big Symphony No. 7, Symphony No. 8 recalled the Classical tradition in its size and scope—the rapier rather than the hammer, as Lewis Lockwood put it.  Neither of these works, however, are regressive in their compositional skills; quite the contrary.  Beethoven’s statement about the Eighth being “much better” in comparison to the Seventh reflects his recognition that the compositional skills he called upon in the “little symphony in F” dealt almost exclusively with the musical materials themselves as music, rather than the heroic-dramatic musical matrix so well treated in his Seventh, Sixth, Fifth, and Third Symphonies, and as such, would appeal more fully to the musical Kenner than to the average concert-goer, an idea confirmed by the audience and critical reactions. Thus, the work was for Beethoven, at least at teh moment of this statement, “much better” as music, and therefore as the art form in which he excelled.

Contributors: SH, YLi, MER


Others’ Words

 “The true lover of art receives with open arms this magnificent, brilliant product of the tireless Beethoven, which, in its own way, does not only fail to lag at all behind its older brothers, but probably even surpasses some of its predecessors in its variety, artful development, novelty of ideas, and highly original employment of all instruments; in short: this is a noble child of the spirit of its truly unique creator.”  Reviewer (probably Anton Diabelli) in the Austrian AMZ in 1818, announcing the recent publication of the Symphony No. 8. (Brown, The Symphonic Repertoire Vol. II, 530.)


The premiere of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 puzzled both the music critics and audiences of Beethoven’s day, and since; a “Musica stravagante” as claimed by one critic which challenged the expectation for the audience—presumably “true Lovers of art”—to embrace the progressive prospects of this symphony. (Lockwood, Beethoven’s Symphonies, 171 & 184.) Lewis Lockwood labels this work as “singular,” in which “idiosyncratic characters” such as surprise and paradox are considered to outshine any previous symphonies. (Lockwood, Beethoven’s Symphonies, 169 & 171). It is often considered as the contrast to the mighty Symphony No. 7, but equal in power.  Donald Tovey states, “what it expresses is the unique sense of power which fires a man when he finds himself fired for a delicate task just as he has triumphed in a colossal one.” (Tovey, Essays in Musical Analysis, vol.1, 162.) Although the Eighth Symphony’s dimension is smaller than the previous symphony, it shares the kindred spirit in the expansive aesthetic and emotional spectrum.

Beethoven referred to Symphony No. 8 as “my little Symphony in F,” in comparison to the Sixth and Seventh. The music is light-hearted, full of charm, and recovered the manner of Haydn while pushing forward into inventive formal territory. Confined within a relatively small scale, Beethoven exhibited more freedom in his radical structural designs, using tools such as unexpected holes, indefinite phrasing, and avoiding a truly slow movement. The second movement, a four-minute piece marked Allegretto scherzando, filled with rhythmic obsession, is particularly compact. The smaller dimension with extreme use of dynamic offers room for striking details and contrasts. (Lockwood, Beethoven’s Symphonies, 181.)  It evokes the metronomic framework of opening of the Andante of Haydn’s “Clock” Symphony, but instead of alternating notes like Haydn, Beethoven continued repeating the same pitches. The invention of the precursor of modern metronome was reflected in the pacing of the repeated wind instruments chords. The composer also subverted the expectation of a Classical symphony by opening the first movement without an introduction, launching directly into the lively Allegro vivace themes. Beethoven’s wit is well manifested by the fact that the first and last measures of the first movement are the same, evidently inherited from Haydn’s playfulness with the expectations surrounding proper opening and closing gestures. With the triple-meter opening movement already showing the hallmarks of a traditional scherzo movement, the composer reverted the traditional scherzo movement to the more Classical minuet and trio.  Without losing playfulness and the prevailing metric dissonance, the finale carries on this sprightly spirit rather than focusing on the heroic weightiness that had become a trademark of Beethoven’s last movements. The composer ingeniously and tirelessly imposed the idea of scherzo—joke—even into the least scherzo-like movements by manipulating various musical details along with the structural turns, as exemplified by the ubiquitous octave leaps driven home by the octave tuning of the timpani in finale, and the half-step key “mistakes” and their unceremonious corrections in the last movement.

Similar to the relationship of the Fourth to the Third Symphonies, and the Sixth to the Fifth Symphonies, the Eighth presents an alternative character in relation to the Seventh: the powerful, demonstrative dramatic surge and extreme contrasts of the Seventh seem to be reduced to a less emotion-laden, more “organic” unfolding of the musical processes in the Eighth. The music reflects a wide variety of stylistic direction, “and its internal features display curious and subtle play with form and expectations about continuity that foreshadow aspects of the late style.” (Lockwood, Beethoven’s Symphonies, 171.) Although composed at about the same time, for Beethoven’s audiences the Seventh evoked enthusiastic attention and approbation, while the Eighth more often brought mystery or confusion, prompting Beethoven’s remark, “That’s because it is so much better.” (See above “Beethoven’s Words” essay.) This continues to be the trend even today.

The Classical mannerisms and dimensions of this work deceptively hide its powerful Romantic spirit. Maybe this work has a truly two-faced nature, like the ancient Roman god Janus: one side facing the past by referencing the Classical Haydnesque influence, and the other side facing forward towards the radically innovative and musically challenging Romantic symphony.  Beethoven’s genius relied upon the process of “re-animating” an established genre and endowed it with more profound artist expressions, freedom, and space. With the Symphony No. 8, as with its predecessors, the composer’s ambition of making each work great fearlessly and defiantly led him to recreating and refining “the conventions in his own ways.” (Lockwood, Beethoven’s Symphonies, 171-72.)

Contributors: JC, SY, MER


Topics and readings for further inquiry

Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved” Letter
Kalischer, A.C. Beethoven’s Letters: A Critical Edition with Explanatory Notes. Translated by J.S. Shedlock. London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1909. Open Library Link.

Beethoven as a Concert Organizer
Beethoven as a Concert Organizer.” Beethoven-Haus Bonn, accessed July 30, 2020.
A brief discussion of Beethoven’s public concerts organized by Beethoven in Vienna.

The Redoutensaal and other performance venues in Vienna
Harer, Ingeborg. “Musical Venues in Vienna, Seventeenth Century to the Present.” Performance Practice Review 8, No. 1 (1995), accessed 07/30/2020.
A brief but thorough review of performance venues in Vienna and their use throughout the seventeenth century to present day.


Online Resources

Early Editions of Score and Parts
Autograph manuscript pdfs: mvts. I, II, IV, mvt. III.

First published score:  Dec. 1816, S. A. Steiner & Co., Vienna


Modern Edition of the Score
New York Philharmonic score with annotations from Leonard Bernstein.

Dover edition (reprint of Henry Litolff’s Verlag, n.d., ca.1880)

Breitkopf and Hartel, 1863

Recordings available online
Period/HIP Performances—
Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, Gardiner

Academy of Ancient Music, Hogwood
1st movement, 2nd  movement, 3rd  movement, 4th  movement

London Classical Players, Norrington

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

Important Recordings by Modern Orchestras—
Israel Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta

Berlin Philharmonic, Herbert von Karajan (1977)

Vienna Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein (1978), with commentary

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Beethoven: Symphony No. 8
Includes two video performances by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchesatra, with or without commentary by conductor Iván Fischer.

Descriptions available online (videos, program notes, etc.,)
Berlioz, A Critical Study of Beethoven’s Nine Symphonies, p. 95: digital scan of printed version, web version.

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Beethoven: Symphony No. 8
Includes two video performances by the Concertgebouworkest, with or without commentary by conductor Iván Fischer. Additional program notes here.

Steven Ledbetter, Aspen Music Festival Program Notes
Discusses genesis, premiere, and overview of each movement.

Christopher Gibbs, NPR: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93
Includes an interview with conductor Christoph Eschenbach.

Los Angeles Philharmonic program notes

Timothy Judd, Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony: An Overlooked Gem
2017 article from The Listener’s Club.

Cleveland Orchestra: The Prometheus Project

“Als Ob” or Making Old New Again: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F Major (1812)
Cleveland Orchestra music director Franz Welser-Most discusses viewing Symphony No. 8 as a revisit of the symphonic past.

BBC Music Magazine: A Guide to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8