Ludwig van Beethoven

Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93

    Description by Roger Dettmer

    Beethoven completed this work in 1812, and conducted the first performance at Vienna on February 27, 1814. The year 1812 was both eventful and productive for the very deaf but very famous Beethoven. In July, at Teplitz spa, he finally met the great Goethe (1749-1832), but was disappointed to find (in his opinion) an aging courtier who was neither a firebrand nor a fellow democrat, and furthermore a musical dilettante. In turn, Beethoven's power both as a person and as an artist impressed Goethe, but the old poet-playwright was fatigued by his high-pitched intensity and offended by a lack of manners bordering on rudeness.

    Withal, Beethoven somehow made time in 1812 to compose a final violin and piano sonata (Op. 96), and to complete a new pair of symphonies. Nos. 7 and 8, begun in 1809 (the year of the Emperor Concerto), were related in much the way his Fifth and Sixth symphonies had been. In 1813 he conducted the Dionysian Seventh to great acclaim, but saved the elfin Eighth for an 1814 concert where it was fatally sandwiched between the Seventh Symphony and Wellington's Victory, or the Battle of Vittoria. This last was adored by the audience in direct proportion to its awfulness, but they only sniffed at the Eighth.

    Compared to the Seventh, No. 8 is benign as well as brief. There are four movements, in all of which the old Classical forms are clearly delineated but somehow thrown out of balance by a constant barrage of curiously humorous distortions. Were the work not such an essentially lyrical joy, one might divine hints of the creative crisis to come for its maker. Its metronomic second movement (which is perhaps an actual tweaking of the recently invented metronome) has only 81 bars -- the fewest in Beethoven's symphonic canon. The composer asked that the third movement be played Tempo di minuetto (in fact it is a Ländler), rather than at scherzo speed. The movement's heavy, graceless accents seem to poke fun at the courtly world only recently passed.The first and final movements are both written in sonata form, both marked Allegro vivace -- con brio, too, in the first.

    Beethoven reserved for the finale a leviathan-length coda, by then one of his musical signatures -- 236 bars, only 30 fewer than the combined exposition, development, and reprise! The movement wears its complexity so lightly that its true subtlety may all too easily pass unnoticed. Sudden loud interruptions in a very remote key herald still more radical explorations in the development. Here, the main rondo theme is debated in counterpoint, with cross rhythms and unexpected harmonic twists. But the giant coda is only the last joke in a work of cloudless skies and merriment. As John N. Burk summed the work up in his evergreen Life and Works of Beethoven: "[His] humor seems to consist of sudden turns in the course of an even and lyrical flow, breaking in upon formal, almost archaic periods. It is a sudden irregularity, showing its head where all [had been] regular -- an altered rhythm, an explosion of fortissimo, a foreign note or an unrelated tonality...like divine play in that pure region of tonal thinking [where] melody and invention pour forth...and fancy is furiously alive." Beethoven himself thought it one of his best symphonies, while Robert Schumann praised its "profound humor" and wrote that the second movement particularly filled him with "tranquility and happiness."

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro vivace e con brio
    2. Allegretto scherzando
    3. Tempo di Menuetto
    4. Allegro vivace

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Edition Taschenphilharmonie ETP 010
    2018 Alpha 380
    2018 Warner Classics
    2018 Decca / Eloquence
    2018 Capriccio Records C 7275
    2018 Warner Classics
    2018 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon 4798418
    2018 Alpha ALPHA 477
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295886691
    2017 Alto 1353
    2017 Berlin Classics 0300926 BC
    2017 Decca / London
    2017 Tafelmusik Media TMK 1034CD
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295824600
    2017 Accentus ACC 80322
    2017 Nimbus Records NI 1713
    2017 Weitblick SSS 02002
    2017 Praga / Praga Digitals 350127
    2017 Pentatone Classics / PentaTone Classics PTC 5186250
    2016 Warner Classics 0190295975098
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795977
    2016 RCA Red Seal 88875169792
    2016 Orchid Classics ORC 100059
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4796314
    2016 Berliner Philharmoniker BPHR 160091
    2016 Tacet TACET 974
    2015 Analekta AN 291505
    2015 Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution 88875112822
    2015 K-Tel 135924
    2015 MDG MDGSC 9371883
    2015 BR Klassik 900137
    2015 Onyx Classics ONYX 4154
    2015 Sony Classical 88875123912
    2015 Querstand VKJK 1317
    2015 Ars Produktion ARS 38171
    2015 Andromeda ANDRCD 9079
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099999356521
    2014 Warner Classics 2564627829
    2014 Melodiya MELCD 1002228
    2014 Warner Classics 545117
    2014 Warner Classics 2564633735
    2014 SDG (Soli Deo Gloria) SDG 721
    2014 Decca / Eloquence
    2014 Decca
    2014 Nimbus Alliance NI 6260
    2014 Philips / Universal 4758147
    2014 Urania WS 121178
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Sony Classical 88843014642
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Warner Classics 2564633618
    2014 Andromeda ANDRCD 9120
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2013 Entertainment Group 1051
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 Crystal Classics DELTA 80006
    2013 Orfeo C 881132B
    2013 BR Klassik 900119
    2013 Entertainment Group 13807
    2013 Tahra / TAHRA TAH 751
    2013 Oehms Classics OC 090
    2013 Naxos 8501204
    2013 Decca
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 4791046
    2012 Decca / Universal
    2012 Decca 4783511
    2012 Entertainment Group 13005
    2012 Brilliant Classics 94289
    2012 Challenge Classics / North Star Records CC 72550
    2012 Haenssler / Hänssler Classic HAEN 93285
    2012 Warner Classics
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 4783380
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Decca 001653802
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099923228
    2012 Warner Classics
    2012 Eloquence 4805952
    2012 Broken Audio BRAU 0791
    2012 Teldec Classics International / Warner Classics / Warner Classics International 61890
    2012 Glossa GCDSA 921116
    2012 Naxos 8501060
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon 002894770055
    2012 Roslin Records Rod 3710
    2012 Concerto / Zebralution
    2012 Andromeda ANDRCD 9093
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779830
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon
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    2011 Musical Concepts MC199
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099909794
    2011 Naïve V 5258
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    2011 Sony Classical 88697927172
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    2011 RPO RPM28400
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    2011 Decca
    2011 Denon Records
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    2011 Warner Classics 63779
    2011 Newton Classics 8802077
    2011 Pentatone / PentaTone Classics PTC 5186312
    2011 Decca
    2011 Decca 4782721
    2011 Entertainment Group 1091
    2011 Brilliant Classics 9010
    2011 ICA Classics ICAC 5047
    2011 IDIS IDIS 6623
    2011 Membran 233373
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Oehms Classics 640
    2010 Archiv Produktion / Deutsche Grammophon 4778643
    2010 Decca
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    2010 Audite 04480
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    2009 BIS 1825/26
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    2009 Signum UK 175
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4777578
    2008 Berlin Classics 0184442
    2008 Landscape Classics / Zebralution
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    2008 GOP Great Opera Performances 77402
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    2007 EMI Classics 367530
    2007 Farao / Farao Classics 108026
    2007 Ambroisie 9993
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    2007 Testament 1405
    2007 Rhino
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    2007 LSO Live 87
    2007 PentaTone Classics PTC5186316
    2007 Tuxedo Music TUXCD 1041
    2007 Sony Music Distribution 5185082
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    2007 BBC Legends / BBC Music 42072
    2006 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 41424
    2006 Weitblick 51
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    2004 Naxos 8508007
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    2004 EMI Music Distribution 575751
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    2004 Philips 4752722
    2004 Laserlight 40027
    2004 Apex 60457
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    2004 Artone 222334
    2004 Document 221543
    2004 Symposium 1241
    2004 Intersound 5854
    2004 Orfeo 409048
    2003 Apex 4604542
    2003 Capriccio Records 50000
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 57445
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 57570
    2003 Teldec 092749768
    2003 Haenssler 93089
    2003 RCA 89109
    2003 Opus KURA 2039
    2003 Telarc Distribution 80198
    2003 Haenssler 93087
    2003 Tuxedo Music 1209
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 000146519
    2003 Naxos 8110862
    2003 Urania 11909
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 474018
    2003 RCA 55702
    2003 Sony Music Distribution 87328
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 000165536
    2003 Delta Distribution 40031
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 75956
    2003 Document 205229
    2003 History 45515
    2002 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 40181
    2002 Brilliant 99927
    2002 Sony Music Distribution 87885
    2002 Legacy 89832
    2002 Opus KURA 2016
    2002 Deutsche Grammophon 471490
    2002 Classica d'Oro 1059
    2002 Classica d'Oro 1066
    2002 Teldec 8573830622
    2002 Haenssler 93056
    2002 D Classics 70616
    2002 Delta Distribution 14572
    2002 IDIS 6361
    2002 Haenssler 93080
    2002 Haenssler 93033
    2002 Classica d'Oro 9007
    2002 History 205186
    2001 RCA 66656
    2001 Erato / Virgin 7243561943
    2001 RCA 89106
    2001 EMI Classics 63034
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 67493
    2001 Decca
    2001 Classica d'Oro 1021
    2001 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon
    2001 Philips Classics 4681042
    2001 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243567496
    2001 Disky 70708
    2001 Tahra 382-385
    2001 History 205259
    2001 History 205241
    2001 Tahra 391-393
    2000 Teldec 28144
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 469000
    2000 Decca
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 66391
    2000 Archiv Produktion 4470632
    2000 Amadis 18501
    2000 Tring 039
    2000 Naxos 110910
    2000 Teldec 83062
    2000 Teldec 27838
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 73895
    2000 Tahra 121/23
    2000 Grammofono 2000 78934
    2000 Symposium SYMPCD1253
    2000 Disky 70527
    2000 Tahra 135
    2000 Pearl 0074
    2000 Tahra 185-189
    1999 Arte Nova 65410
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 447903
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 573323-2
    1999 Dutton Vocalion 1014
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 67098
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 419435
    1999 Teldec Classics / Warner Classics 175709
    1999 Masterpiece 90035
    1999 Warner Classics
    1999 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243573569
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 459463
    1999 Brilliant 99093
    1999 Intersound 3858
    1999 Vanguard 9010
    1999 EMI Music Distribution 56841
    1999 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 223
    1999 Preiser Records 90113
    1999 Pearl 9185
    1999 Grammofono 2000 78032
    1998 Angel Records 72923
    1998 Nimbus NI1760
    1998 Orfeo 449961
    1998 Intersound 2840
    1998 Lys 101
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459024
    1998 RCA 55836
    1998 Sony Classical 60557
    1998 Masterpiece 90022
    1998 Arte Nova 56341
    1998 Grammofono 2000 78826
    1998 Grammofono 2000 78805
    1998 Disky 703732
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 459 068-2GCC10
    1997 Virgin 61375
    1997 Sony Music Distribution 63266
    1997 Point Classics 265057
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453701
    1997 L'Oiseau-Lyre
    1997 L'Oiseau-Lyre 452551
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 66252
    1996 Harmonia Mundi 2905225.30
    1996 Grammofono 2000 78012
    1996 Philips 454 035-2PM2
    1996 Orfeo 385961
    1996 Chandos 7042
    1996 Naxos 8 553475
    1996 Grammofono 2000 78894
    1996 RCA Victor 61892
    1996 Arts Music 47245
    1996 Carlton 690002
    1996 Music & Arts CD-942
    1996 Naxos 504012
    1995 Preiser Records 90111
    1995 Carlton Classics 6800025
    1995 Harmonia Mundi 2901192.98
    1995 Deutsche Grammophon / Universal
    1995 Laserlight 15947
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 64461
    1995 Teldec 95515
    1995 Seraphim UK 69017
    1995 Laserlight 14259
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 47517
    1995 Deutsche Grammophon 445542
    1995 Seraphim UK 68519
    1995 Deutsche Grammophon 437928
    1995 ZYX Music 4055
    1995 Berlin Classics 0021 982BC
    1995 Berlin Classics 0021942
    1995 Madacy 1000
    1994 Archiv Produktion 439 900-2AH5
    1994 London 440627
    1994 Naxos 505001
    1994 EMI Music Distribution 68057
    1994 ASV 6067
    1994 Naxos 550407
    1994 Chesky Records 69
    1994 Philips 442156
    1994 Berlin Classics 0020052
    1994 Bescol 9
    1994 Philips 442 073-2PB5
    1994 Music & Arts 793
    1993 Deutsche Grammophon 439200
    1993 Deutsche Grammophon 439 005-2GHS
    1993 Sony Music Distribution 48238
    1993 Belart/Karussell 450058
    1993 Orfeo 268921
    1993 IMP Classics 918
    1993 Classical Heritage 1201
    1992 Nimbus 5144
    1992 Teldec 75709
    1992 Orfeo 293921
    1992 Sony Music Distribution 48396
    1992 London
    1991 RCA 60255
    1991 Teldec 46452
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 46328
    1991 EMI Classics 63606
    1991 Sony Music Distribution 48099
    1990 RCA 60324
    1990 RCA Victor GD60255
    1990 Laserlight 15900
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 4290892
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 423481
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 423364
    1990 Laserlight 15902
    1990 London 417765
    1990 London 425525
    1990 Sony Classical 45893
    1990 Decca
    1990 Decca
    1990 Decca 430400
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 429036
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 427306
    1989 RCA Victor Red Seal 60090
    1989 EMI Music Distribution 763310/5
    1989 Telarc Distribution 80200
    1987 Deutsche Grammophon 4190512
    1987 Delos 3013
    1986 Deutsche Grammophon
    1980 Tahra 214
    History 204552
    Deutsche Grammophon 477006
    Gemini 621
    Compose Records 9140
    EMI Music Distribution 494872
    Classical Diamonds 4013
    EMI Music Distribution 49852
    EMI Music Distribution 749852
    Cascade Records 2203
    Amado Classics 03003
    Philharmonia of the Nations 09
    Accord 204442
    Brilliant 92766/2
    EMI Music Distribution 554502
    EMI Music Distribution 63357
    Capriccio Records 10003
    Deutsche Grammophon 427401
    Teldec 243725
    Everest 9103
    Ambroisie 123
    CBS Masterworks 45532
    RCA 60128
    Grammofono 2000 78540
    Laserlight 35604
    Capriccio Records 10451-55
    EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 747698
    Arch Media 1001
    Sony Music Distribution 46328
    Grammofono 2000 78901
    RCA 60269
    Naxos 8 550178
    CBS Masterworks 45532-3
    Lys 173
    Quintessence 2072
    Classic Art
    DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 7491382
    RCA 60534
    Magic Talent CD 48056
    Magic Master 37073
    Pilz 1904
    Royal Classics 6427
    BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 227
    Disky 705262
    MCA 9802
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    Laserlight 14824
    Capriccio Records 10454
    Music & Arts 246
    EMI Music Distribution 63891
    Brilliant 93525/3
    Relief 1892
    D Classics 703772
    BBC Music Magazine 87
    L'Oiseau-Lyre 425695
    Excelsior Recordings 043
    Originals 844
    Vox 8055
    Virtuoso 2697172
    RCA 61854
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    Teldec
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    As Disc 313
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    Philips 426846
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    Ermitage 157
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    BS 9
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    Centurion Classics 10005
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    Winterthur
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    SEL Classics 01.02-073
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    London 433330
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