The Pastoral Symphony, storms and nature..


Tonight, on a windy, rainy night I went to see a performance of the Pastoral Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven. Inspired by his summer walks in Heiligenstadt, and the countryside surrounding Vienna, this symphony depicts the feelings he and us, yes us, feel when surrounded by the beauty and majesty of nature. He shares this so perfectly with us.

One might think that this symphony is one to be performed in the summer, and indeed this would be wonderful, but is it not in the winter when we long for those warm summer days?

Tonight I was transported to the summer of 1808 in Heiligenstadt, Vienna, and felt the joy of the beauty of the little brook:


The area has changed quite a bit from Beethoven’s time, but the brook still flows.

This symphony stands out from his others in that there is no tension, the overall mood of this music is joy, with tranquillity. Even the storm breaking is not threatening (unlike in other composer’s works, symbolising doom). Oh no. The storm here is a celebration of the power of nature, it is just what it is. The rain comes and soaks the dry soil; the trees drink in the water. Then the storm passes and the sun comes out. It is a reminder that the sun will always come back, even when it seems so far away on dark winter days and nights, like this one.

Ludwig van Beethoven passed from this earth during a storm in March, 1827. Fancifully, or perhaps not, it seems nature marked this event.

In December 1999, it was 229 years since Ludwig’s birth in Bonn, 1770. Another event occurred- this time in space, far far away. A flare of Gamma rays, 10 million light years away was noticed by astronomers. The cause was not known, but could have been due to an encounter between a neutron star and a hypernova. A hypernova is somewhat 100 times more powerful than a supernova.¬† This event was fittingly named The Beethoven Burst.



The premier of the 6th Symphony was on December 22nd, 1808, conducted by Beethoven himself.


A comprehensive and interesting article on the creation of the Symphony: