What Do You Know About Classical Music? A Quiz Deck
Sample Card Text
How many symphonies did Beethoven write? Which one is the “heroic” symphony? Which one did the Allied powers draw on to boost morale during World War II?
Ludwig van Beethoven (German, 1770–1827) wrote nine symphonies—as well as thirty-two piano sonatas, seventeen string quartets, several concertos, and one opera, Fidelio. Symphony no. 3 in E-flat, composed in 1804, is known as the Eroica (heroic) symphony. During World War II, the Allied powers adopted the first four notes of Symphony no. 5 (1804–1808) as an artistic weapon. The three short G’s and one long E-flat, representing the Morse code V (for victory), helped maintain morale during the darkest days of Nazi domination in Europe. Beethoven might have approved. A pivotal figure of Western music, he lived in the turbulent political age that encompassed the French Revolution and the rise and fall of Napoléon Bonaparte. His compositions reflect the epic struggles for freedom he witnessed—and the battles he waged within himself, especially his slow, humiliating struggle against deafness. “Our times need mighty spirits,” he wrote, “to lash into action these timid, beggarly human souls.”