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Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and his Ninth Symphony Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 5th, 2021


Ludwig van Beethoven a Germany citizen is today known for his contribution to music. He was a composer as well as a pianist; skills that he learnt when he was young. His musical career was successful as he was a composed up to nine complete symphonies. The Germany musician suffered ill health that in the end left him deaf while in his twenties. However, he did not quit music as he continued living his life style in music. The sickness contributed to his financial crisis as he was not able to make enough income to support himself.

Besides the deafness, Beethoven was a creative composer. In his works Beethoven carefully made masterpiece that were original. Additionally, made the works formed a basis for future composition and left room for further exploration in composition to achieve creativity. Among his works are the choral fantasy and the ninth symphony.

They contain similarities that provoke one to think that Beethoven had thought of the ninth symphony before the choral fantasy where as the choral fantasy came years before the ninth fantasy which was his final piece. Therefore, this essay will discuss Beethoven life and discuss the choral fantasy and the ninth symphony and point out the similarities.

Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

The Choral Fantasy was presented at the end of the year in 1808 in a concert among other artist to present their new musical composition. Beethoven and the other musician had been given the venue for free to hold the concert in closure of the year. At that time musicians met the cost of the venue and other expenses like paying the choir by raising money during concerts.

Beethoven was experiencing financial turmoil in his personal life and he took on this opportunity. Besides his deafness at the time he completed and presented the master piece. The money he was going to get from the concert was going to bring a relief in his financial difficulties (Broyles p. 264).

The choral fantasy was written in C minor and had been composed in a hurry following the fifth symphony. The concert was done in a theater that was extremely cold because there were no arrangements to warm the theatre. The singer had little practice and so the presentation of the orchestra did not sound like it intended. The group had not perfected its vocal sounds since there was inadequate practice and the soloist was replaced the day of presentation.

Despite the cold weather, the piece was presented and the presentation had irregularities. This is because there was poor coordination between the musical instruments and the singing group as well as the soloist. In this piece Beethoven avoided using the symphony he often used in the end of his masterpiece. Although the presentation was not perfectly presented the choral fantasy has survived to date due to it competency (Broyles p. 264).

The musical instruments start the orchestra on a slow tempo, and then the different leaders of instrumentations alternating give their presentations and then the soloist follows. While the soloist builds up a melody the choir joins systematically in the melody making the piece excellent.

This presentation last for twenty minutes although the time might vary slightly at times. When presented as designed the piece is outstanding. This was an original composition that became a favorite to audiences. It was pleasing to the audience and he received appreciation for his musical skills, which he could not hear.

The ninth symphony was composed in D minor after the choral fantasy. At the time of the composition Beethoven was already deaf and could not recover. Nevertheless, he chose to continue with giving his contributions in music. Despite the hearing challenge the Beethoven overcame all the odds and composed the ninth symphony. He also presented the ninth symphony in an academic concert for a period longer than an hour.

The piece borrowed heavily from the choral fantasy climax and words from the title “ode to joy”. The ninth symphony took a lot of time in preparation and Richman (2) a music director believes that he had prepared for long to do this kind of a symphony. Although the group he used to present the piece did not have adequate preparations, the presentation moved the audiences and they appreciated the symphony.

The ninth symphony became a success and has been used as an exclusive masterpiece that incorporated voices in the piece. The voices of four vocalists come in towards the conclusion and also include a chorus. In his composition, Beethoven observed thematic harmony from the first movement to the fourth movement.

The theme was predominant stormy with variations especially in the introduction. Next the group use variation in developing the theme. Then the introduction is revisited by a bass singer and the next movement is ushering in the vocalist and the concluding chorus (Richman p. 3).

The ninth symphony was his last piece that he wrote before his demise. He had overcome the deaf challenge and used his talent to create music. The music composition took a long period of time to complete and demonstrated creativity.

Similarities between Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

There are similarities between the Choral Fantasy and the Ninth symphony. Beethoven was aware that the two were going to be alike when writing the ninth symphony. As it is noted by Kinderman (p.160) the climax of the two pieces has similarity in harmony. In both the singers join the music towards the end especially in the final movement. The instruments and the vocalist melodiously wind up the song together.

Additionally, both the choral fantasy and the ninth symphony were excellent academic concerts that demonstrated similar themes and a well designed structure of the master piece. Beethoven observed musical principles in his compositions and established harmony in the music. At times there were criticism that arose from his composition, Beethoven defended himself on the basis of creativity (Broyles p.262)

Kinderman (p.162) further argues that although the choral fantasy was presented much earlier than the ninth symphony, their relationship could imply that Beethoven had earlier thought of the ninth symphony’s theme. This is because the theme in the choral fantasy seems to have been further developed in the ninth symphony.

Although he tried to present it as an entirely unique theme ninth symphony, the style and structure are identical though with some few distinctions. The audiences greatly influenced the structure of both pieces. The religious ideas expressed were greatly appreciated by the audiences. The recitations were equally alike in their presentation especially when it went along with the playing off the piano.

In his book Broyles (p.263) notes that the choral fantasy after the first movement has four variations that resemble the ninth symphony theme. It bears a resemblance to the choral in the structure, the unity and harmony and repetitive sentences as well as the combination of voices. This is what aided in development the theme in the masterpiece. They are evident in the use of musical instruments with a lot of reference to the piano and also the use of singing group with a soloist.

The choral fantasy along with the ninth symphony has an artistic, affectionate and spiritual appeal. Broyles (p. 262) pointed out that they are emphatically demonstrated that in the ninth symphony than in the choral fantasy. This is exhibited when the piece begins with instruments and proceeds to end with a chorus.

For instance, the melodies that introduce the masterwork are alike in terms of structure. He also notes that he used the vocalist in two pieces to bring out the emotion and spiritual of the musical piece affection. The ninth masterpiece however had more style in to reveal all that was not attained with the choral fantasy.

The soloist and the choir are present in both the ninth symphony and the choral fantasy. This part is demonstrated very clearly towards the end, in the last movement of the symphony and the choral fantasy. It is appealing to the listener, similar in style and ends the piece well. Therefore, it is possible that the composer had an idea of the ninth symphony earlier than he composed the choral fantasy. That may be the reason he actually composed the ninth symphony to demonstrate the original thought.

The orchestra and instrumentation are slow in tempo at the start. The other instrumentation is introduced orderly in harmony as a melody is created.

Beethoven was a pianist and he incorporated the piano in the piece carefully and creatively with an aim of causing harmony in the entire song. The soloist crafts an artistic way of blending in while the choir joins the orchestra. Together chorus is thereby presented: making the music fantastic. The music and the voices are together applied in the choral fantasy and the ninth symphony similarly.

Graber (p. 4) reveals that Beethoven employed creativity in his composition. Every theme was searched and every possibility tried on to give an original piece. Consequently, Graber also believes that the ideas that were not fully explored in the choral fantasy thoroughly gave insight to the ninth symphony composition. He revised the choral and creatively crafted the ninth symphony and manages to make them two separate works.

In addition, Beethoven also used unutilized ideas and the actualized to develop the later composition. Therefore, one piece of work could be used to develop the future piece. Being his last composition, the ninth symphony included what he had earlier left in his composition. The themes that he presented were universal and the timing could not be easily predicted because it was not possible to match the specific time that the idea developed.

The two works of Beethoven have some common aspects that make them similarity. Although the two works differ in some respects, they are in stature by present day valuation highly and significantly interconnected. Beethoven himself also noted some similarities between the two of his work when he analyzed them.

Derrick (p. 1) says that later in life, Beethoven began making a critical analysis of musicians like Handel. This period that he wanted to assert his influences has been referred to as the late period by various scholars who have attempted to look into the life of Beethoven.

Throughout this period as his health continued to deteriorate he struggled to compose a number of music and writing quartets such as Fifteenth Quartet, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Sixteenth Quartets. He finally succumbed to illness on Monday 26th March 1827 (p.24).

A lot has been made of Op.80 as a master plan for the Ninth Symphony. In two mails written on March 10 1824, Beethoven referred to the symphony as a ‘new grand symphony which concludes with a finale. In Op.80 the theme of mutual love is presented and developed like that in the finale of the Ninth Symphony. Broyles argues that, although Ninth Symphony is superior to the Choral Fantasy, these two works are alike in a number of ways.

The Choral Fantasy begins instrumentally and always concludes with a chorus. Their themes are also very similar in that they have conjunct diatonic melodies that lay primarily in the first four scale steps, with regular clear cut antecedent consequence phrase structure. In addition, the theme in both is given to the instrument first for variations before the chorus enters. Harmonically, the two have a pattern that appears at the climax of the Choral Fantasy on the words ‘und Kraft’.

Furthermore, the series of chords C-F-D-G-E, with the agogic accent clearly on E. There are other thematic similarities between Choral Fantasy and the Ninth Symphony in that the Ninth Symphony has a consistent use of scale wise subjects, especially the ones that move up and down and lower tetra chord do provide a greater than normal element of cohesion to the various movements (p.69).

Kinderman says that that Beethoven had thought of the Ninth Symphony before he composed it. Hopkins (p.3) states that in 1818 Beethoven had in mind a symphony with voices that that could sing pious in the ancient modes. However it had to wait until the period between 1822 and 1823 when Beethoven connected the ideas that he had of Schiller with such kind of symphony.

To demonstrate that he was aware about the Ninth Symphony, up to the late 1823 he was still experimenting with the instrumental solutions to the finale. To make sure that he came to the final form of the Ninth Symphony, Beethoven had to cut and rearrange Schiller’s poem so that in order to suit his own poetic vision.

Since this was not a simple task he had to struggle a bit to establish how he was to link the choral section and its introductory instrumental variations to the lengthy preceding instrumental movements. In the long run he hit upon the solution of a baritone recitative whereby he used his own words.

The melody for the ode to joy took a long period of time to be released (p.4). One of its peculiarities is the way it was incarnated in the Choral Fantasy, Op.80 of 1808. This work also employed a text by an obscure poet Christoph Kuffner that looked exactly the same in content and rhythm to Schiller’s Freude poem (p .4).

His first movement was designed in a way that it was of imposing stature, which was rooted in archaic sonata form with an ingenious layer of variations and thematic transformations. Cooper says that,” Of all the passages in a work of art, the first subject of the first movement of the Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has had the deepest and widest influence on later music” (p.55).

This was a clear indication that not only was this Ninth Symphony popular in those days but even in the contemporary world where music of different genres has emerged. The subsequent theme became excellent in its final form because it was remodeled over a number of years although it is evident that Beethoven conceived of its fugue subject from the beginning.

Peek (p.1) also notes some differences between the two works by Beethoven where he says that “Some of the music at the climax of the symphony is borrowed from his “Choral Fantasy” composition from 1808″ (Peek p. 1). The choral fantasy acted as a pace setter for the symphony. It acted as his basis of putting both the Choral and Symphony music together.

Another notable similarity is that the vocal forces in both represent a theme that is played instrumentally. This theme is highly evocative in the two works. The Choral Fantasy was performed along the same time with symphonies five and six which also set the ground for symphony 9. The theme in Choral Fantasy indicates a direct kinship with the ‘Ode to Joy’ in the ninth symphony.

In the top level form of the two works, there are some notable similarities. For instance, in the two works, according to Symphony No (Beethoven), “The instrument and the vocal sections are presented in double variation forms, the tonality moves from tonic minor to tonic major and Themes are being offered and rejected many times before the final vocal theme is accepted” (Symphony No. (Beethoven), p. 1).

Besides, both works involve instruments and voices used in the two arts and both are meant for pointing out the vocal sections. It is also noted that many aspects of the Choral fantasy anticipates Beethoven’s later settings of Schiller’s text in the Choral finale of the ninth symphony.

According to Bent (p. 213), both works had overall forms that defied the all previous standards. These include; a long, purely instrumental component that was almost a composition of in its own right, followed by a substantial Choral component. The two works also could not be viewed nether as an instrumental composition with Choral appendage or a choral work with instrumental prelude but both works were a fusion of forms.

The two works also affected a partial transfer of sonic medium from instrument to human voice. They also differ in the sense that both entailed a shift from abstract music to a combination of music and language or a shift from purely musical to the human.


Beethoven composition did not only appeal to the audiences of his time but has lived as history that can be revisited in learning music today. His compositions were full of creativity and variation and managed to appeal to the listeners.

He did not take his inability to hear as an excuse to refrain from composing but he went on to compose and present music he could not hear. His works often showed similarity in structure and creativity. The choral Fantasy and the ninth symphony are works that had likeness although he managed to make them remain exclusive works.

The Choral fantasy and the ninth symphony are similar in structure and the use of variation within the composition. In both compositions Beethoven made use of the orchestra and the choir with a soloist. There is creativity in the use of the instrument. Being a keyboard player, he was capable of forming come up with a combination of notes that went along to form fantastic sounds.

The climax was similar with the choir and the orchestra performing harmoniously in the climax. The presentation of both the choral fantasy and the ninth symphony in the theater was not as successful as it was meant but the composition was highly appreciated by the spectators.

Works Cited

Beethoven, van Ludwig. Beethoven: The Man and the Artist. Middlesex: Echo Library, 2007.

Bent, Ian. Music analysis in the nineteenth century: hermeneutic approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Broyles, Michael. Beethoven: the emergence and evolution of Beethoven’s heroic Style. New York: Excelsior Music Publishing Co, 1987.

Cooper, Barry. Beethoven. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Derrick, Austin. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. New York: Routledge, 1992.

Graber, Naomi. Twice upon a time: Thematic intersection between Beethoven’s quartet, 2000. Web.

Hopkins, Anthony. The Nine Symphonies of Beethoven. London: Heinemann, 1981.

Kinderman, William. Beethoven. California: University of California Press, 1995.

Peek, Kevin. Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, 2010. Web.

Richman, Daniel. . Web.

Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven). . Web.

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