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Choral Fantasy

Composer: Beethoven Ludwig van

Instruments: Mixed chorus Piano Orchestra

Tags: Fantasia


Download free scores:

Complete Score PDF 2 MBAdagio PDF 0 MBFinale. Allegro PDF 1 MBAllegretto, ma non troppo, (quasi Andante con moto) PDF 1 MB
Complete. Complete Score PDF 1 MB
Allegretto, ma non troppo, (quasi Andante con moto). Complete Score PDF 1 MBAllegretto, ma non troppo, (quasi Andante con moto). Color Cover PDF 1 MB

Parts for:

AllViolinViolaTrumpetTimpaniOrchestraOboeFrench hornFluteClarinetCelloBassoon



Cello + Flute + Piano + Viola + Violin + Mixed chorus (Unknown) Piano(2) (Hans von Bülow) Piano four hands (Hugo Ulrich) Piano(2) (Unknown)
The Fantasy (Fantasia) for piano, vocal soloists, mixed chorus, and orchestra, Op. 80, usually called the Choral Fantasy, was composed in 1808 by then 38-year-old Ludwig van Beethoven.
Beethoven intended the Fantasy to serve as the concluding work for the benefit concert he put on for himself on 22 December 1808; the performers consisted of vocal soloists, mixed chorus, an orchestra, and Beethoven himself as piano soloist. The Fantasy was designed to include all the participants in the program and thus unites all of these musical forces.
The work is noted as a kind of forerunner to the later Ninth Symphony.
The Fantasia was first performed at the Akademie of 22 December 1808, a benefit concert which also saw the premieres of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies and the Fourth Piano Concerto as well as a performance of excerpts of the Mass in C major. To conclude this memorable concert program, Beethoven wanted a "brilliant Finale" that would unite in a single piece the different musical elements highlighted in the concert night: piano solo, mixed chorus and orchestra. The Fantasia, Op. 80, written shortly prior, was thus composed expressly to fulfil this role. Beethoven himself played the piano part and the opening solo offers an example of his improvisational style (at the premiere he did, in fact, improvise this section).
Beethoven wrote the piece during the second half of December 1808 in an unusually short time by his standards (remember, first performance 22 December 1808). He commissioned a poet—whose identity is disputed—to write the words shortly before the performance to fit the already written parts. According to Beethoven's pupil Carl Czerny, the poet was Christoph Kuffner, but the later Beethoven scholar Gustav Nottebohm doubted this attribution and suggested it may have been Georg Friedrich Treitschke, who in 1814 prepared the final text of Beethoven's opera Fidelio.
The premiere performance seems to have been a rather troubled one; according to the composer's secretary, Anton Schindler, it "simply fell apart," a result most likely attributable to insufficient rehearsal time. Because of a mistake in the execution of the piece, it was stopped halfway through and restarted. In Ignaz von Seyfried's words:
When the master brought out his orchestral Fantasia with choruses, he arranged with me at the somewhat hurried rehearsal, with wet voice-parts as usual, that the second variation should be played without repeat. In the evening, however, absorbed in his creation, he forgot all about the instructions which he had given, repeated the first part while the orchestra accompanied the second, which sounded not altogether edifying. A trifle too late, the Concertmaster, Unrath, noticed the mistake, looked in surprise at his lost companions, stopped playing and called out dryly: 'Again!’ A little displeased, the violinist Anton Wranitzky asked 'With repeats?’ 'Yes,’ came the answer, and now the thing went straight as a string.
The work includes a sequence of variations on a theme that is widely felt to be an early version of a far better known variation theme, namely the one to which Beethoven set the words of Friedrich Schiller's "Ode to Joy" in his Ninth Symphony. The two themes are compared below.
Michael Broyles has suggested another musical similarity: the two works share essentially the same harmonic sequence at their climactic moments, the chords (in C major) C F D (G) E♭, where the E♭ stands out from its harmonic context and is performed fortissimo. The words sung at this point are (for the Choral Fantasy) "Lieb und Kraft" ("love and strength") and (for the Ninth Symphony) "Über'm Sternenzelt! Über Sternen muss er wohnen." ("Above the tent of the stars, above the stars he must dwell").
There are also affinities in the texts. The theme of the Choral Fantasy text – universal fraternity with the meeting of arts – evokes similar feelings as the "Ode to Joy" text.
Beethoven himself acknowledged the kinship of the two works. In a letter of 1824, when he was writing the Ninth Symphony, he described his project as "a setting of the words of Schiller's immortal "Lied an die Freude" in the same way as my pianoforte fantasia with chorus, but on a far grander scale."
The Choral Fantasy theme is itself taken from earlier work by Beethoven: it is a slightly modified version of the composer's "Gegenliebe", a lied for high voice and piano written c. 1794–1795.
The Choral Fantasy, which lasts about 20 minutes, is divided into two movements, played without a break:
The piece is scored for solo piano, mixed chorus, two soprano soloists, an alto soloist, two tenor soloists, a bass soloist, and an orchestra consisting of two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings.
The Fantasy opens with a slow but virtuosic 26-bar piano introduction, modulating from C minor to C major and back again. The main part of the piece, marked "Finale", begins with an Allegro theme played by the cellos and basses. Next, the solo piano introduces the choral theme in an ornamented version. Variations on the theme are then played by the flutes, oboes, clarinets, and string soloists, respectively. A full orchestral version of the theme, played at a forte dynamic leads into a more lyrical piano line.
The orchestra accompanies an eighth-note heavy piano part as the piece modulates from C minor to C major. A calm, flowing A-major section, ending with a call-and-response section between double reeds, horn, and piano, leads into the Marcia, an F-major variation on the main theme in march style. A reprise of the instrumental theme from the first Allegro transitions into the choral entrance.
The chorus enters with the sopranos and altos singing the main theme, harmonized in triads. The tenors and basses then sing the theme, after which the entire chorus is joined by the orchestra in a tutti rendition. A presto coda with orchestra, chorus, and piano brings the piece to a close.
The work's text is as follows:
The piece ends with repetition of phrases from the last four lines.
As noted above, the words were written in haste, and Beethoven was perhaps not entirely pleased with them. He later wrote to his publisher Breitkopf und Härtel:
You may wish to print another text, as the text like the music was written very quickly ... Still with another set of words I want the word kraft ["strength"] to be kept or one similar to it in its place.
As Kalischer et al. observe, the word Kraft "is treated with grand style in the music."