From Beethoven to Today: Why Symphony Music Remains Popular

There is an old story about how Beethoven composed his most famous symphony; apparently, once his maid came to the door to bring him supper, she knocked on the door a few times in a specific rhythm while Beethoven was lying in his bed and having a creative blockage. The knocks inspired him to write what we now know as the infamous 9th Symphony, which we associate with the powerful struggle between the dark and the light, of progress against reaction, to which Beethoven dedicated his whole life and work.

Historians and biographers disagree on the story’s origin, and chances are it’s probably made up, yet the power of his composition remains. A true masterpiece that has been echoing through centuries, it is still enjoyed by music lovers around the globe and is often used as an inspiration for new music even today. The story tells us about the lasting effect of greatness written on stained paper a few hundred years ago, and it tells us how some things never “go out of style.” But why? One cannot help but ask what the secret behind the legacy is. Can we pinpoint a song we’re listening to today that will still be popular 200 years from now? Let’s discuss it a bit more and see what makes symphony music so special.


Timeless Emotional Resonance

First, what is symphony music? It’s a musical composition made specifically to be played by a large orchestra, and symphonies refer to the music, not the musicians performing it. Similar to stage plays, they may have several movements or acts of often complex, elaborate classical music. The complexity of such a masterpiece gives it a dimension that modern music often lacks. While new songs and “compositions” are made for instant pleasure, emitting simple emotions within a 10-minute frame, the purpose of a classical masterpiece is to give you a cathartic experience, an emotional nirvana; it puts you on a path to discovering long-buried feelings you never knew you had. From the Fifth Symphony’s heroic triumphs to the Seventh’s profound sorrow, the emotional depths, ups and downs, lows and highs create a mesmerizing and enduring experience. This aspect of a symphony gives it a timeless character, an irreplaceable feature for as long as humans feel they’ll understand the message and the sentiment of the composition.


The Concert Experience

It all comes down to this moment, the moment of complete anticipation. The concert experience embodies everything we talked of until this moment. The whole symphony was made for the symphony band and adapted to their abilities and possibilities. The grandeur of a full orchestra, the splendour of the concert hall and well-designed acoustic features, the shared experience with the audience, and the chance to feel it all and hear it all while looking at the band, creating magic, are why symphonies are still played today. The occasion alone is all about finesse. Your clothing has to be appropriate, there is a certain ethic you must follow, and you’ll have to reserve the seats months ahead and prepare yourself beforehand to understand the structure of the acts.


Complexity and Artistic Mastery

The intricate structure and sophistication of symphonic compositions showcase the highest levels of musical artistry. Composers like Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler made unique pieces that challenged the audience, making them feel and wonder and engaging them with their complex harmonies, thematic development, and orchestration. The rich auditory experience following such a symphony is incomparable and often overlooked, as we live in a society usually seeking pleasures without the necessary waiting period, making the pleasure more unique and exciting. The complexity draws you in; you succumb to the rich tapestry of musical harmonies and notes, and you become entirely lost while anticipating the final act, the resolution of the whole symphony. Once you’ve reached it, you completely give yourself to the experience, and the closing act drops afterwards.


Cultural and Historical Significance

Undoubtedly, symphonies have a unique cultural and historical heritage and legacy we cherish and love nowadays. It often has a nostalgic and sentinel value, reminding us of times long gone. We give away our personal sentiment and believe it’s better because it stands against the test of time, a testimony of human achievement. Symphonies reflect the cultural context in which they were made. It gives us a glimpse into the lives of those listening to it; we can understand what they thought, felt, and believed in while listening to it, and we can relive the same experience even now. It’s like travelling through time, plus its significance provides an educational aspect to symphony music, offering insights into the periods from which these works emerged and making them valuable cultural artifacts.


Educational Importance

It all comes down to the old masters and their mastery. The educational value of symphonies is still unprecedented and serves as inspiration for generations to come. After 200 years of criticism and musical reviews, the symphonies have usually been deconstructed and analyzed a thousand times, with detailed feedback making it possible for new musicians to create new pieces while relying on the ingenuity of the old works of art. Once, Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” simply meaning using the understanding gained by prominent thinkers who have gone before to make intellectual progress. Symphonies allow future musicians and generations to create daring pieces and new music while having fixed guidelines to help them navigate the complexity of music. The educational importance only exists because the pieces have a certain depth—a depth that is worth exploring and that has been studied for centuries. 

Sometimes the old ways are the best,” a quote emphasizing the opposition to modernity and everything it brings. Often associated with a certain degree of animosity towards innovation, it is seldom the issue; rather, the problem is not appreciating the origin of what we call innovation. It all had to start somewhere, and returning to old classics gives you a unique opportunity to learn about the past in often forgotten ways.



Mark Munroe is the Creator and EIC of ADDICTED. He's ADDICTED to great travel, amazing food, better grooming & probably a whole lot more!

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