Ludwig van Beethoven

Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36

    Description by Roger Dettmer

    Measured against the hot-wired First Symphony, the heroic Third, and the heaven-storming Fifth -- all of them written between 1799 and 1808 -- Beethoven's Second is a relaxed work in greater part, akin to the Fourth and Sixth symphonies. This has prompted music listeners ever since to wonder how he could have created a work as buoyant as No. 2 at a time when his worsening deafness had been diagnosed as incurable and irreversible.

    The work came to term in 1802 from sketches organized the previous year. Likelier than not, it reflects several happy months in the rural retreat of Heiligenstadt, on the recommendation of an otologist. From one window in his isolated cottage he could see eastward to the Danube, and beyond. Outside, he roamed the fields and surrounding woods freely, yet his mood was "morose" according to Ferdinand Ries, the devoted pupil who visited him there.

    Beethoven introduced the new symphony at Vienna on April 5, 1803, at a mammoth Akademie in the Theater an der Wien, along with the Third Piano Concerto (completed in 1800), a new oratorio, Christ on the Mount of Olives, and a repeat performance of the First Symphony from 1800. In the third movement of No. 2, the word scherzo appeared symphonically for the first time, although it retained a song and trio form, and was built on the sudden juxtapositions of loud and soft, with changes in their patterns just when he'd seemed to settle on one. The scoring, however, continued to employ traditional pairs of winds and brass, timpani, and strings.

    An Adagio molto introduction anticipates the soft-loud contrasts that explode like Chinese firecrackers two movements later, although the sound and shape of it recall Haydn. The exposition begins in measure 35, with a main subject of Mozartian levitation, but thereafter Beethoven asserts his own less courtly and more confrontational personality.

    As in the First Symphony, he wrote the first, second, and fourth movements in sonata form. The longest of them is this A major Larghetto in triple meter, if all the repeats are observed. Finding an accommodating tempo can pose problems: largo, after all, means "broad," the slowest tempo in music. Larghetto is a diminutive form -- i.e., not as slow -- but how slow (or not slow) remains the conductor's call.

    After Beethoven's surprises in (as well as of) the scherzo, he chortles throughout a finale marked Allegro molto, mostly at his own syncopated jokes. They begin in the first measure and don't let up till the double-bar. Many of his contemporaries were shocked, and several reviled him in print. One Viennese critic, after a repeat performance in 1804, called Symphony No. 2 "a crass monster, a hideously writhing, wounded dragon that refuses to die and, though bleeding in the finale, furiously thrashes about with its stiffened tail." One should always keep posterity in mind whenever a spiky new piece tempts us to dismiss it without a trial (whereas easy-listening pieces tend to spoil as quickly as unrefrigerated seafood, and most should).

    Parts/Movements

    1. Adagio molto
    2. Allegro con brio
    3. Larghetto
    4. Scherzo. Allegro
    5. Allegro molto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Edition Taschenphilharmonie ETP 010
    2018 Wiener Symphoniker WS 015
    2018 Alpha 380
    2018 ICA Classics ICAC 5148
    2018 Warner Classics
    2018 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon 4798418
    2018 ABC Classics
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295886691
    2017 ICA Classics ICAB 5141
    2017 Berlin Classics 0300926 BC
    2017 Tafelmusik Media TMK 1034CD
    2017 Decca / London
    2017 Decca / London
    2017 Vinyl Passion Classical
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295824600
    2017 Accentus ACC 80322
    2017 Nimbus Records NI 1713
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4797477
    2017 Pentatone Classics / PentaTone Classics PTC 5186249
    2017 ICA Classics ICAC 5145
    2016 Warner Classics 0190295975098
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795977
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796314
    2016 Berliner Philharmoniker BPHR 160091
    2016 Tacet TACET 974
    2016 Warner Classics 0190295929718
    2015 Analekta AN 291505
    2015 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875112822
    2015 BR Klassik 900138
    2015 Sony Classical 88875123912
    2015 Orchid Classics ORC 100045
    2015 DUX / Dux Records DUX 1196
    2015 Andromeda ANDRCD 9079
    2015 Alpha ALPHA 470
    2015 Ricercar RIC 357
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099999356521
    2014 Warner Classics 2564627829
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002228
    2014 Tafelmusik Media TMK 1023CD2
    2014 Nimbus Alliance NI 6259
    2014 Decca / Eloquence
    2014 Warner Classics 545117
    2014 Warner Classics 2564633735
    2014 SDG (Soli Deo Gloria) SDG 721
    2014 Philips / Universal 4758147
    2014 Urania WS 121178
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Sony Classical 88843014642
    2014 Audite AUDITE 95627
    2014 Broken Audio BRAU 1144
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2013 San Francisco Symphony SFS 0058
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94327
    2013 Crystal Classics DELTA 80006
    2013 Bella Musica BM 312452
    2013 Bella Musica
    2013 Warner Classics 83085
    2013 EMI Classics
    2013 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099973530
    2013 Warner Classics 175712
    2013 BR Klassik 900119
    2013 Dutton Laboratories CDBP 9819
    2013 Haenssler / Haenssler Classics / Hänssler Classic 94224
    2013 Oehms Classics OC 090
    2013 Naxos 8501204
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 4791046
    2012 Decca / Universal
    2012 Decca 4783511
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94289
    2012 Challenge Classics / North Star Records CC 72550
    2012 Haenssler / Hänssler Classic HAEN 93285
    2012 Warner Classics
    2012 Decca 001653502
    2012 Entertainment Group 12109
    2012 Oehms Classics OC 673
    2012 Teldec Classics International / Warner Classics / Warner Classics International 61890
    2012 Glossa GCDSA 921116
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 002894770055
    2012 Roslin Records Rod 3710
    2012 Concerto / Zebralution
    2012 Andromeda ANDRCD 9093
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779830
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
    2011 Musical Concepts MC199
    2011 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2011 Naïve V 5258
    2011 Warner Classics
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099909794
    2011 Challenge Classics CC 72532
    2011 Centaur Records CRC 3088
    2011 Supraphon SU40512
    2011 Sony Classical 88697927172
    2011 Music & Arts CD1252
    2011 Decca
    2011 RPO RPM28400
    2011 Warner Classics 63779
    2011 Newton Classics 8802077
    2011 Pentatone / PentaTone Classics PTC 5186312
    2011 Decca 4782721
    2011 Decca
    2011 IDIS 6612
    2011 Membran 233373
    2011 Audite 21408
    2011 EMI Classics
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Archiv Produktion 477 864-3
    2010 Archiv Produktion / Deutsche Grammophon 4778643
    2010 Decca
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    2010 Sonoma Entertainment SBT 20107
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2009 PentaTone Classics 5186314
    2009 Rca Red Seal 88697542542
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
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    2009 BIS 1825/26
    2009 Telarc Distribution 80756
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Tahra 673674
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4777578
    2008 Berlin Classics 0184442
    2008 Landscape Classics / Zebralution
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099921763
    2008 Berlin Classics 0115022
    2008 Eloquence / Philips / Philips Classics 4681072
    2008 Opus KURA 7039
    2008 BIS 1816
    2008 Col Legno 60002
    2008 Audite 23404
    2008 ZYX Music 10321
    2008 Zig Zag Territoires 80402
    2008 Corona Classic Collection 0001252CCC
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    2008 Corona Records 0002672CCC
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    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099951203
    2007 ABC Classics 4765957
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon 004400734325
    2007 Disques XXI 1489
    2007 Hungaroton 41007
    2007 Music & Arts 1203
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 EMI Classics 367530
    2007 Ambroisie 9993
    2007 Rhino
    2007 Testament 1406
    2007 Selection 8571006
    2007 Sony Music Distribution 5185082
    2007 EMI Classics 3777672
    2007 EMI Classics 87739
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon 000966502
    2007 Decca 4759090
    2007 Music & Arts 1198
    2007 Hyperion 44301
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    2006 Document 224051
    2006 LSO Live 598
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    2006 LSO 82
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    2006 Madacy 52319
    2006 Andromeda 5017
    2006 Music & Arts CD1182
    2005 Oehms 522
    2005 Brilliant 92766
    2005 Oehms Classics 605
    2005 Arte Nova 636450
    2005 Elatus
    2005 Berlin Classics 0012512
    2005 Angel Records 66794
    2005 Pentatone Classics 5186143
    2005 Audite 95531
    2005 EMI Music Distribution 86504
    2005 RCO Live 05002
    2005 Philips 4756883
    2005 Teldec / Warner Classics / Warner Music 4618902
    2005 Document 221790
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 4775838
    2004 Arts Music 47700
    2004 Brilliant 99793
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 474983
    2004 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon / Universal
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    2004 Naïve 4971
    2004 Avie 40
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 474601
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    2004 High Definition Classics 037
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 000218502
    2004 PentaTone Classics 5186159
    2004 Naxos 8508007
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    2004 EMI Music Distribution 575751
    2004 Resonance 504
    2004 Philips 4752722
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    2004 Laserlight 40027
    2004 Apex 60457
    2004 Deutsche Grammophon 474 980-2GM10
    2003 Capriccio Records 50000
    2003 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 57445
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 57566
    2003 Haenssler 93084
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 1462
    2003 Telarc Distribution 80187
    2003 PentaTone Classics 5186118
    2003 Naxos Historical 8110856
    2003 RCA 89109
    2003 Haenssler 93089
    2003 Teldec 092749768
    2003 Berlin Classics 0021962
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 Apex 4604532
    2003 BBC Legends 41242
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 474018
    2003 RCA 55702
    2003 Sony Music Distribution 87328
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 000165536
    2003 Delta Distribution 40031
    2003 EMI Classics 75965
    2003 IMG Artists 75465
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 75474
    2003 History 45515
    2002 Glissando 38
    2002 Brilliant 99927
    2002 Teldec 8573830852
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 471487
    2002 Sony Music Distribution 87885
    2002 Sony Classical 89844
    2002 Dutton Laboratories 9716
    2002 Classica d'Oro 1064
    2002 D Classics 70616
    2002 Testament 1285
    2002 Tahra 420-421
    2001 RCA 66656
    2001 RCA 66458
    2001 Haenssler 98375
    2001 CBC Records 5201
    2001 Erato / Virgin 7243561943
    2001 Decca
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 67491
    2001 Berlin Classics 0031342
    2001 RCA 89107
    2001 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243567496
    2001 Disky 70708
    2001 History 204573
    2001 Tahra 363/365
    2001 Tahra 391-393
    2000 Teldec 28144
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 469000
    2000 Decca
    2000 Orfeo D'Or 534001
    2000 Teldec 83085
    2000 Amadis 18501
    2000 Basic Classics 3
    2000 Grammofono 2000 78893
    2000 Tring 039
    2000 Teldec 27838
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 73895
    2000 Naxos 110919
    2000 Disky 70527
    1999 Arte Nova 65410
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 573323-2
    1999 Arte Nova 63645
    1999 RCA 55835
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 56838
    1999 Sony Classical 61835
    1999 Golden Melodram 40040
    1999 Brilliant 99093
    1999 Intersound 3858
    1999 Vanguard 9010
    1999 Archiv Produktion 459622
    1999 Simax 1179
    1999 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 223
    1999 Pearl 9185
    1999 Grammofono 2000 78032
    1998 Angel Records 72923
    1998 Nimbus NI1760
    1998 Fleur de Son 57931
    1998 Teldec 3984213352
    1998 Intersound 2840
    1998 Lys 101
    1998 Denon Records 17001
    1998 Grammofono 2000 78826
    1998 Disky 703732
    1998 Lys 383
    1997 Point Classics 267011
    1997 Naxos 8 553476
    1997 Carlton Classics 6702292
    1997 Virgin 61375
    1997 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 62344
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453701
    1997 L'Oiseau-Lyre 452551
    1997 L'Oiseau-Lyre
    1997 Magic Talent 48070
    1997 Grammofono 2000 78711/12
    1996 Harmonia Mundi 2905225.30
    1996 Grammofono 2000 78012
    1996 Arts Music 47370
    1996 Philips 454032
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 447 902-2GBM
    1996 Chandos 7042
    1996 Arts Music 47244
    1996 Music & Arts CD-942
    1996 Carlton 30369
    1995 Carlton Classics 6800025
    1995 ZYX Music 4008
    1995 Harmonia Mundi 2901192.98
    1995 ZYX Music 4051
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 64460
    1995 Laserlight 15947
    1995 Laserlight 14257
    1995 Berlin Classics 0021942
    1995 Raven 100
    1995 Madacy 1000
    1994 Archiv Produktion 439 900-2AH5
    1994 Chesky Records 17
    1994 Deutsche Grammophon 439681
    1994 Naxos 505001
    1994 EMI Music Distribution 68057
    1994 ASV 6067
    1994 London 443 479-2DF2
    1994 GMS Productions 1006
    1994 Philips 442156
    1994 Berlin Classics 0020052
    1994 Bescol 9
    1994 Philips 442 073-2PB5
    1994 Madacy 0500
    1994 Madacy 0300
    1994 Madacy 5602
    1994 Madacy 9107
    1993 Deutsche Grammophon 439200
    1993 Deutsche Grammophon 439001
    1993 Sony Music Distribution 48238
    1993 Teldec 76436
    1993 Classical Heritage 1201
    1992 Nimbus 5144
    1992 Teldec 75712
    1992 Sony Music Distribution 47651
    1992 Sony Classical Essential Classics 47515
    1992 Sony Music Distribution 48396
    1992 London
    1991 Teldec 46452
    1991 EMI Classics 63606
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 48099
    1990 RCA 60324
    1990 Laserlight 15900
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 4290892
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 423481
    1990 Laserlight 15903
    1990 RCA Victor GD60253
    1990 Decca 430400
    1990 Decca
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 429036
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 427306
    1989 RCA Victor Red Seal 60090
    1989 EMI Music Distribution 763310/5
    1989 Telarc Distribution 80200
    1988 Naxos 550177
    1987 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon 4190502
    1980 Tahra 126
    1980 Supraphon 283286
    1980 Tahra 216
    History 204552
    Glissando 40
    EMI Music Distribution 494872
    EMI Music Distribution 49852
    Classical Diamonds 4013
    EMI Music Distribution 749852
    Excelsior Recordings 321351
    Smithsonian Collection of Reco 320
    Excelsior Recordings 041
    MDG 3510
    Cascade Records 2202
    Amado Classics 03002
    Pilz 160204
    EMI Music Distribution 63355
    EMI Music Distribution 554502
    Brilliant 92766/2
    Classical Masterworks
    Ambroisie 120
    CBS Masterworks 45532
    Conifer 125
    CBS Records 42009
    CBS Records 38469
    Opus 3 19504
    IMP Classics 929
    World Classic Compact Disc 44010
    L'Oiseau-Lyre 414338
    Sony Music Distribution 5037
    Bescol 524
    CBS Records 44775
    Smithsonian Collection of Reco 321
    Grammofono 2000 78900
    Excelsior Recordings 4266
    Grammofono 2000 78540
    Capriccio Records 10451-55
    Laserlight 35604
    Berlin Classics 0011212
    BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 225
    Brilliant Classics 8635/46
    Artists 071
    Brilliant 93178/7
    Supraphonet 111104
    Menuet 160018
    Deutsche Grammophon 423049
    Disky 705242
    Brilliant 99793/2
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    EMI Classics 763192
    D Classics 703752
    Sony Music Distribution 47651
    D Classics 706182
    Everest 9101
    CBS Masterworks 45532-2
    Brilliant 93525/2
    Grand Gala 2158
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    RCA 60253
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    RCA 7198
    Laserlight 14822
    Classic Art 119
    EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 747698
    Smithsonian Records 320ND
    Denon Records 8013
    Powder Classics 5075
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    Classic Art
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    Quintessence 2041
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    Nas 2503
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    BS 9
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    Nuova Era 2243/48
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    BBC Legends / BBC Music 40992
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    Denon Records 8120
    Brilliant Classics 8593/9
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    History 205640
    FED 071
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    History 204574
    Iron Needle 1421