Beethoven’s tribute to spring

by richibi

Sandro Botticelli - "Primavera"

Primavera (1478)

Sandro Botticelli


if there’s a musical work to perform for
spring what Botticelli‘s Primavera
does with painting, celebrate it, that is,
for the ages, it must be Beethoven’s
“Pastorale”, German for “Pastoral”,
Symphony, usually referred to thus,
with the accent on the last “a”

the composition is expressly narrative,
Beethoven even sets the scene for every
movement, five of them

1 Awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrival in the countryside
2 Scene by the brook
3 Merry gathering of country folk
4 Thunderstorm
5 Shepherd’s song; cheerful and thankful feelings after the storm

he is manifestly using music as language,
descriptive language, you can nearly hear
the flowers grow, you can most definitely
imagine them, you bristle at the crack of

the subject isn’t specifically spring, but
the spirit is undeniably so, the spring of,
indeed also, the spirit, the buoyancy of

it’s 1808, Beethoven is at the height of
his euphoria, his admiration, and
celebration, of physical nature, he’s
sowing his wild oats

later he’ll address the metaphysical,
but for now he’s still bursting with
unmitigated life, his spring


psst: see also his “Spring” Sonata, opus 24,
for still more, though less familiar,
vernal, purportedly, magic, Beethoven
didn’t name the sonata, his publisher
did, which is why the “Pastorale”
sounds more springlike
than this other more direct, apparently,

which had never been there, essentially,
Beethoven’s primary, anyway, intention,
however lovely the eponymous, the
titular, work
might have in comparison
proven to be

you be the judge, listen