I am preparing for a timpani audition at a local symphony and one of the excerpts is listed as, "Beethoven Symphony No. 5, Mvt 4, Opening." Is there a specific length of the opening? Perhaps the interpretation is part of the audition?

My thoughts is that is the first 21 measures, but another reasonable guess would be the repeat and second ending, where in the timpani part, a 28 bar rest follows.

I have not been able to find anything online concerning a specific opening. Is there a commonly defined opening to this piece?


  • Disclaimer: it's only my opinion! No, I don't think it has an opening of commonly-defined length. I've just had a look at the score and I can't see that the examiners would find out much more about you in those extra bars from measure 21 to the end-repeat: only that you can do rather longer rolls and can handle the odd triplet. The most interesting material is in the first 21, don't you think? I think that's all they want. BUT! It wouldn't hurt to practise (US: practice) up to the 2nd time bar just in case. Or at least be prepared for them to ask to hear bars 422/3 (the two bars of triplets). May 14, 2020 at 3:04
  • If you want to appear competent at an audition, you should be prepared to go beyond whatever is listed in any case. For one thing, if the jury likes your initial bit, they may ask for more. May 14, 2020 at 12:17
  • Wait, they don't give you the sheet music to practice from, but they announce the name anyway? Do they expect you to figure this out by ear or research it yourself?
    – Dekkadeci
    May 14, 2020 at 14:32
  • All the music can be found on imslp. May 14, 2020 at 16:09
  • Allowing they request it at your audition, it would be interesting to know which measures you wound up playing.
    – Aaron
    Jul 18, 2020 at 5:31

1 Answer 1


(For reference, a copy of the score.)

Analytically, the first theme goes from either mm. 1 - 22 or from mm. 1 - 26, depending on whether you consider mm. 22 - 26 as part of the theme or transitional material into the second theme.

For example, one casual analysis:

In this movement, however; Beethoven introduces four themes.... The first theme is ... in the tonic, C major. The second melody or transitional theme is also forceful, played in a fortissimo, and is also brought in by the horns [m. 26].

In timpani terms, this would make the "opening" bars 1 - 22. (One hopes they would specify "exposition" if they wanted the entire section through the second ending.)

Also, note that Orchestral Excerpts for Timpani by Randy Max includes mm. 1 - 22.

Table of Contents entry for mm. 1–22
(Image Source: RandyMax.com)

Finally, glancing through several audition lists, the ones that specify specific measures in Beethoven 5/4 indicate "until four before A." (For example, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.) An educated guess (but can't confirm) is that A is at m. 26.

  • "Also, note that Orchestral Excerpts for Timpani by Randy Max includes mm. 1 - 22": that is probably the most convincing and concrete evidence in favor of this conclusion, since the likelihood of an orchestral audition list being chosen from a standard collection of excerpts seems very high. The other reasons given in this answer are sound as well, of course.
    – phoog
    Jun 4, 2022 at 7:13

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