Original Finale in c minor to Fifth Symphony op. 67, Gardi 23 (1804)
Author: Mark S. Zimmer
The Fifth Symphony in C minor is of course one of the towering works of classical music, and its famous progression from the darkness of C minor into the finale with its majestic C major are well known. What is not so well known is that amongst the early sketches for this symphony, the Finale was originally intended to also be in C minor! These sketches, reproduced here, date from 1804 and are found in the last folios of the sketchbook autograph 19e, held by the Beethovenhaus in Bonn. Marked "l'ultimo pezzo" or "the last piece" by Beethoven, the finale is a determined 6/8 that evolves into a fortissimo arpeggio on the chord before breaking off altogether. It's astonishing to think that Beethoven considered ending the symphony in the same depths from which it had originally sprung, but his indomitable spirit clearly led him to the correct conclusion of triumph over adversity as we find it in the completed work.
Our thanks for Professor Glenn Stanley of the University of Connecticut for informing The Unheard Beethoven about this sketch.