One of the best known and most beloved in music literature, Beethoven's
Fifth was written between 1804 and 1807. The first performance took place
on 22 December 1808 in Vienna with Beethoven conducting. One of the most
famous phrases in symphonic music opens the work and dominates the first
movement, which then gives way to a set of variations on one long, extended
theme in the second movement. The four-note introduction reemerges in the
third movement, a Scherzo, with the double bass taking on a major role.
The fourth movement is a magnificent explosion of music, almost a
triumphant march. This recording is part of Bernstein's complete cycle of
Beethoven symphonies recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra live
in Vienna. The series won the Ace Award, the U.S. Cable TV Association's
top award for outstanding quality and entertainment value. Bernstein's
impassioned renderings of Beethoven move audiences in a unique way.
"Beethoven has always meant universality to me, ever since my early
adolescence, when I first heard that unforgettable cry of 'Brüder!'. From
that moment on, every... symphony came to mean heart-to-heart
communication, travelling satellite-fashion via the cosmos itself. I offer
[this cycle] to all music-loving ears as a testament of faith and of my
most profound reactions to this greatest of all composers."
(Leonard Bernstein, 1980)