THE 5TH — MOVEMENT II, From Struggle to Victory


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In the first movement of his famous symphony, Beethoven sets up a battle between hope and despair. The dark side of that spectrum is represented by the anguished opening notes of the first movement: DUN DUN DUNNN. Over the course of the next three movements, Beethoven keeps trying to overcome his dark fate with bright major melodies, and keeps getting defeated.

With each high and low, we begin to understand that this battle isn't just about major and minor keys, it's about the will to live in the face of adversity. How do you perform such an emotional rollercoaster? We talk to the members of the New York Philharmonic about what it's like to sound a symphony whose stakes are life and death.

Jaap van Zweden, Conductor

Leelanee Sterrett, Horn

Kyle Zerna, Percussion

Frank Huang, Violin

Anthony McGill, Clarinet

Sherry Sylar, Oboe

Recording of The New York Philharmonic performing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 conducted by Jaap van Zweden used by permission from Decca Gold.

Hear new episodes of our four-part miniseries The 5th every Tuesday and Friday starting September 8th.

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