Symphony No.5 in C minor Op.67
Ludwig van Beethoven


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Down 1, Beethoven's most famous symphony is at its lowest-ever Hall of Fame position

If you had to pick one musical phrase in the whole of classical music known by more people than any other, it would surely be the opening two bars of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. But what does it mean? As with many other classical works, critics have been all too keen to assign to this symphony the character of Fate knocking at the door. But, aside from an assertion to that effect by Beethoven's friend Schiller, there's very little evidence to suggest that it was the composer's intention. Instead, could it simply be the case that Beethoven's musical genius led him to write an outstanding, gripping melody? His creative juices were certainly flowing in the early 1800s: work on the Symphony No. 5 began shortly after the premiere of his mighty Eroica, a symphony similarly imbued with thrilling melodic lines from start to finish.

Fate by Alphonse Mucha (1920). Beethoven's secretary Anton Schindler described the piece as Fate knocking at the door.