December 22, 2016

Today in History: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony premiered (1808)

John RobsonArchive

Dec. 22 is the anniversary of the 1808 premiere of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, whose instantly recognizable opening notes became a potent symbol of the Allied cause in World War II.

In 1941, a BBC broadcaster noticed that those opening notes tapped out the Morse code for “V”, the first letter of “Victory” in French and English (but not German) and of “freedom” in Flemish (Vrijheid), and that the Roman numeral for Fifth was also V.

It was pure coincidence, but of the sort that makes you feel that perhaps the universe is so constituted that very fortuitous coincidences do happen at crucial times.

Comments
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commented 2016-12-28 23:33:19 -0500
On the day Beethoven’s father died , Ludwig found himself in a position where he was unable to pay for the funeral. The inspiration came when the undertaker knocked on the door.

@anonymous….unlike feminist history these lectures are not compulsory. Please feel free to skip class.
commented 2016-12-23 02:57:52 -0500
The point is, Robson is making a video for the sake of making a video. He has nothing interesting to say, so he just tries his best to state a pattern that is completely pointless.
commented 2016-12-23 01:55:08 -0500
He never claimed he was an expert musician. He’s a historian and he did his usual excellent and interesting job, Scrooge. Go rain on somebody else’s parade you whiner.
commented 2016-12-23 00:56:27 -0500
Anonymous; if it’s pure drivel then enlighten us oh nameless one. Prick.
commented 2016-12-22 21:59:37 -0500
This video is pure drivel. Robson sounds like some of my former senile liberal arts professors. It is clear from this video that Robson has no music education.
commented 2016-12-22 19:25:16 -0500
Even in one’s late 60’s you keep learning. Thanks for that Dr. Robson.
commented 2016-12-22 16:37:54 -0500
Hmmmm… Beethoven’s fifth having a part in the victory of the second world war.

Interesting look into history, John. Thank you.

I really do enjoy your historical moments.