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According to Wikipedia:

The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (sometimes known simply as "the Choral"), is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827). Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best-known works of the repertoire of classical music. Among critics, it is almost universally considered to be among Beethoven's greatest works, and is considered by some to be the greatest piece of music ever written.

Why? I have listened to the the 9th symphony, but I don't think it it so great to be called "the greatest peice of music ever written". Are some other pieces of music not greater than the ninth symphony? According to me, Fur elise is much better than the ninth symphony. What is the reason behind calling the 9th symphony so great?

I know that this is an opinion based question and it might get closed, but many other questions on this site are opinion based. I wanted to ask in the chatroom but no one was there at this time.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Dom, Wheat Williams, Shevliaskovic, kiprainey, Pat Muchmore Mar 10 at 1:24

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Could this question be somehow rephrased to make it not an opinion based question? For example: "Are there any theoretical / historical reasons behind considering the Beethoven's 9th Symphony as one of his greatest works?". Because it seems like the 9th symphony is not a question of popularity (likes / dislikes), but has some references and facts to be considered a great piece. (?) –  Dmytro Dzyubak Mar 10 at 9:25

2 Answers 2

Because of its high influence on all of the symphonic (and not only symphonic) compositions as such. According to the same Wikipedia article that You've mentioned (see the Influence section):

Many later composers of the Romantic period and beyond were influenced specifically by Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

With regards to the Symphony genre:

  • In this composition he managed to sum up everything that was written before. All the best practices of his own compositions as well as all of the others.
  • He made some changes to the usual pattern of Classical symphonies: scherzo movement before the slow movement, choral finale, etc.
  • He included many ideas that change paradigms and traditions: the idea of Universal Brotherhood, etc.
  • Nobody could do better then him (in his 9th symphony) for quite a long period of time.

You can find quite an interesting quote at Symphony No. 1 by Brahms article about that:

there was an expectation from Brahms' friends and the public that he would continue "Beethoven's inheritance" and produce a symphony of commensurate dignity and intellectual scope—an expectation that Brahms felt he could not fulfill easily in view of the monumental reputation of Beethoven.

And that was the reason of

Brahms himself declared that the symphony, from sketches to finishing touches, took 21 years, from 1855 to 1876.

Some things You can do that could help to better understand its greatness:

  • learn more about this composition
  • try to understand it as much as possible
  • note that Your opinion may vary depending on the interpretation of this composition, so You have to listen to its best performances
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I would say, that the Wikipedia article is questionable, lacking neutral point of view. "..is considered by some as the best..." can probably be stated for every piece of music (novel, play, software) ever written, anything at all. While there are some objective reasons that this is really great music (introduction of the chorus pointing forward to Wagner etc.), and while I personally rank his string quartets in at least the same quality level, you will have a hard time finding somebody else voting for "Für Elise". Popularity is surely a a criterion, but not necessarily for quality.

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