Symphony No.6 in F major Op.68 ('Pastoral')
Ludwig van Beethoven


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The second highest of Beethoven's 17 entries in the Ultimate Hall of Fame. This has never been lower than number 12, back in 2003, and spent the first two years of the chart at its highest ever position of number 3.

Originally subtitled Recollections of Country Life, Beethoven's 6th Symphony paints a picture of peasants' merrymaking, a storm, and the ensuing calm that follows it.

The 3rd movement begins with country dancing and a merry time generally being had by all but listen out for the end of the movement, when the music suddenly stops (this is the point when the peasants realise it's started to rain). From there, the thunderstorm begins. The music's initially quite light and sparse reflecting just the odd raindrop here and there but it rapidly grows and develops, as the rain falls more rapidly. The musical mood of the final section is unashamedly joyful: the rain has gone, the merrymaking can continue, and all is well!

Summer Pastoral by Francois Boucher (1749).