Romanticism plays a big role in Beethoven’s fifth symphony. As Guerrieri wrote, “Every time a singer-songwriter is praised for projecting autobiographical authenticity; every time a movie star expresses the desire for a project that’s “more personal”; every time a flop is subsequently recategorized as a before-its-time masterpiece–all these are reverberations of the bombshell of Romanticism, and one of its preeminent delivery systems was Beethoven’s Fifth.” Many romanticists have analyzed the fifth and applied their theories to it. Beethoven even had some background in the movement and was familiar with the Romantics, and Immanuel Kant, who wrote critiques and other works. He developed the idea of “free beauty” and “dependent beauty”, which is how one truly judges aesthetically. Kant died just before Beethoven’s fifth, and then started the main Romanticism movement. Many say that Beethoven’s fifth was in the right place at the right time-instrumental music was becoming a norm and the romantics were just beginning to come across his works. E.T.A. Hoffmann, a Romantic, was among the first to critique and analyze Beethoven’s Fifth. Guerrieri included an excerpt of Hoffmann’s words on the symphony, and it was almost a narrative describing the piece using intense imagery, painting a clear image in the reader’s heads. “glowing beams shoot through this kingdom’s [He often referred to “kingdoms”] deep night, and we become aware of gigantic shadows that surge up and down, enclosing us more and more narrowly and annihilating everything within us, leaving only pain of that interminable longing…” and so on. This description clearly shows the type of analyzing and describing the romantics were fond of, finding the deeper, pure meaning and idea of things. Hoffmann then does a play by play of the entire piece, writing a stream of consciousness type  overview. After reading the section on Hoffmann and the fifth, one can assume that there are many ways to portray the symphony.When digging into pieces he often brings the idea of “doubles” and “dopplegangers” to the table, therefore finding them in this piece, in addition, there are arguments that Hoffmann was searching too persistently for a sense of unity to the point of bending and clouding his romantic judgement, however finding the deeper meanings is what being a romantic is all about. Finally, another issues about Hoffmann’s work is the true purpose behind it-was he advertising and promoting romanticism with his romantic ideas and approach, or was he referring to the war and take over of Napoleon. Guerrieri states, “In what is, after all, a wartime review of a wartime piece, Hoffmann rationalizes occupation by making the Fifth a stand-in for German glory, a kingdom of latent power awaiting its realization.”

Overall, I believe that a romantic review on the piece does help with giving an understanding. An image is painted in the readers head when hearing Hoffmann’s description of the fifth, and visualizing helps with hearings and comprehending.




One thought on “Infinities

  1. Outstandingly perceptive post, Hattie! As I am getting to know you, you are clearly are good thinker and are following these complicated arguments very well. I feel that your writing is getting better too, these posts are a little less in a conversational tone of voice and a bit more formal. That’s good, this course is in part about developing and clear and elegant writing style.

    I like how you say B’s 5th was in the right place at the right time. That’s actually a very good summary of the entire chapter!

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