WAMU 88.5 : The Diane Rehm Show

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Matthew Guerrieri: "The First Four Notes: Beethoven's Fifth and the Human Imagination"

The opening phrase of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is one of the most widely recognized in music. It has mystified musicians, historians and philosophers for 200 years. Music critic Matthew Guerrieri says it's "short enough to remember and portentous enough to be memorable." Listeners agree it says something powerful and profound, but none can agree on what that might be. Guerrieri considers what could have influenced Beethoven when he wrote those four notes. And he describes how the motif has been interpreted around the world and throughout history. Join Diane and her guest for new insights into the music, the composer and the Fifth Symphony's lasting influence.

The First Movement Of Beethoven's 5th Symphony

Read An Excerpt

Excerpt from "The First Four Notes: Beethoven's Fifth and the Human Imagination" by Matthew Guerrieri. Copyright 2012 by Matthew Guerrieri. Reprinted here by permission of Knopf. All rights reserved.


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