Audience reactions were understandably mixed after the 1808 premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony no. 6 in F.
For one thing, it was late December and the theater was dreadfully cold, the performance was over four hours in length, and Beethoven’s musicians were under-rehearsed and on poor terms with the composer. In the Choral Fantasia, the orchestra even broke down embarrassingly and had to start again!
Nevertheless, from a modern perspective, who wouldn’t want to be present at that first performance, not only of the pastoral symphony and fourth piano concerto, but also of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony?
In the movements we just heard, a rollicking peasant wedding is interrupted by a sudden thunderstorm.