The Symphony quickly acquired the nickname “Schicksals-Symphony” (Symphony of Fate). It was provided by Beethoven’s assistant Anton Schindler, who remembered the following story told to him by the composer. When Beethoven realized that his hearing loss was rapidly worsening, he penned an angry letter suggesting that he would “seize Fate by the throat; it shall not bend or crush me completely.” The struggle with “Fate knocking at the door,” according to Schindler, is musically encoded in the opening module. In the event, Beethoven worked on this composition for the better part of four years. The initial musical ideas, mainly rough sketches outlining rhythmic motives, date from 1804 and seem to have been sketched immediately following the completion of his Third Symphony. Work was frequently interrupted by other compositions, but Beethoven eventually readied the work for a marathon performance, which included his Sixth Symphony. The two symphonies appeared in reverse order, with the Sixth played first and the Fifth played in the second half of the program. The Symphony is simultaneously dedicated to two of his patrons, Prince Joseph Franz von Lobkowitz and Count Razumovsky.
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5