Choral Fantasia in C minor Op.80 (Choral Fantasia)
Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven's choral masterpiece falls 53 places this year

Of everything Beethoven composed, this is one of his most intriguing works. The unusual instrumentation he chose would certainly not have been something to which audiences of the time would have been accustomed. Indeed, you could easily believe the Choral Fantasia to be a piano sonata, given the expansive solo passage at the start.

When the Choral Fantasia was first performed in 1808, Beethoven had a number of things on his mind. After all, this was the very same concert where, among other works, he was introducing two of his best-loved symphonies (Nos. 5 and 6) to the world for the first time. Far from being a slick affair, the Choral Fantasia's birth was a difficult one. The performance was clunky, the sense of ensemble between the musicians poor, and the reception decidedly lukewarm.

Music Making Angels by Peter Paul Rubens (c.1628).