Beethoven’s music was under-appreciated in his own era. Now, some people claim that he wrote the best music of the Romantic and Classical periods. He wrote 9 symphonies, 38 piano and violin concertos, 16 string quartets, and sonatas; his works have become immortal. Remarkable, many of his masterpieces were created after he became deaf.
His work is nothing short of pure timeless beauty! Today I am going to tell you all about the best pieces of Beethoven’s work. There’s no easy way to choose the best of Beethoven, but these 15 orchestral pieces represent him well.
Top of Beethoven’s Orchestral Works Review
Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the world’s most famous and influential composers, lived from 1770-1827. The music he wrote during that transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras was popular to listeners despite his struggles with hearing. One of the main reasons speakers find it so engaging is likely due to what they went through.
Explore our selection of the best Beethoven pieces including symphonies, concertos, operas, string quartets and piano sonatas by the famous composer. Listen to the best of Beethoven on Apple Music and Spotify while you read on below for a selection of some of Beethoven’s finest Orchestra works.
1. Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55 (Eroica)
Of all his symphonies, Symphony No. 3 in E? major, Op. 55 is his most popular one. This piece is sometimes called “Eroica” or “Sinfonia Eroica” in Italian, meaning “Heroic Symphony.” This was Beethoven’s crowning achievement from his most creative period. This symphony has four movements:
- Allegro con Brio in Eb major in Sonata form
- Marcia Funebre in C minor which is a funeral march in ternary form
- Allegro Vivace in Eb major which is a lively Scherzo form
- Allegro Molto in Eb major which has a set of variations in forms and the finale of the symphony.
The performance usually lasts around 41-56 minutes and varies depending on style. This classical masterpiece reaches a new level of emotion. It is rumored that Beethoven dedicated the Eroica to Napoleon until he declared himself as the emperor of France.
2. Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
Duh Duh Duh Duhhhhh. Duh Duh Duh Duhhhhh. The Symphony No 5 in C minor, Op 67 is the coolest classical music because it starts with 8 consecutive notes of a melody. This work of pure art has become a new measure of success.
Listening to this symphony will get your blood pumping. You’ll also transcend into a different realm as the music moves you. It’s so raw, I have to say. There are also four movements:
- Allegro con brio in C minor
- Andante con moto in Ab major
- Scherzo: Allegro in C minor
- Allegro in C major
It’s clear that transitions in a typical performance of Beethoven’s 5th are fluid. A show usually lasts 30-40 minutes.
3. Egmont Overture
The Egmont Overture is a composition for orchestra that was written during the French occupation of Vienna by Ludwig van Beethoven. The incidental music was written to accompany theater performances of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s drama, Egmont.
Although the overture is still a very popular piece in most productions, it’s only played on its own in rehearsals. It’s intricate work of art that gives a sense of what the main opera has to offer.
4. Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68 (Pastoral)
Well, some people think Beethoven was a romantic composer. But, I must say, once you hear the 6th Symphony by Beethoven, you’ll clearly understand his keen interest in country-themed composition.
It’s clear that this symphony has taken its inspiration from nature and the countryside. Kind of like a peaceful spring morning, where birds are singing, flowers are blooming and gentle wind is blowing; listen to this symphony and you’ll start thinking about nature, unplug for just a moment so you can be in the moment.
5. Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125: Ode to Joy
Beethoven’s last symphony is the most famous one. It’s simply because it was his longest work, and the music is just so raw and beautiful. Beethoven tried to summarize human life in this symphony – from birth to death.
The whole musical journey is like getting the happiest of all joy rides that’ll only last an hour and a 20 minutes. The whole musical trip will make you feel so jubilant, just like the name tells the tale of. That’s one of the craziest things I’ve heard this week. It’s a shame that the composer couldn’t hear what he was composing.
6. Symphony No. 7, Op. 92
When this symphony was released, Beethoven was at his peak in terms of an artist. The symphonies he created were nothing short of pure perfection. On its premiere in 1813, the overwhelmed crowd asked for playing the second movement again.
His tunes are so good they make you travel to another dimension. It sounds like it can cure the problems of your day! When you hear the sound it makes, you might feel a sense of excitement that might induce adrenaline. People have been talking about this symphony for centuries.
7. Wellington’s Victory/The Battle of Victoria, Op. 91
Beethoven is a legendary composer, but this one piece in particular can get overlooked. That’s understandable though because it’s the longest symphony he ever wrote. It was called the Battle Symphony or the Battle of Victoria depending on who you ask, but we think it’s better than any other symphony he wrote. The Duke of Wellington was a pretty impressive guy. There’s no need for revenge music if you know your wars!
This magnificant Spanish opera house is what played a pivotal role in history. It’s also why Beethoven wrote it for the King George IV.
The Battle Symphony was originally a musical novelty. But after Ludwig von Beethoven wrote it for piano, he created an orchestral version for the commemoration Johann Maelzel had requested.
8. Rondo a Capriccio in G Major, Op. 129 (Rage Over a Lost Penny)
One of the funniest creations was Rage Over a Lost Penny. The title is more popular in the name of The Penny Instinct. It’s one of the most harmless anger and so natural. The music is very chirpy and lightweight. You will find yourself moving to it as you have fun with the songs.
It’s unfortunate that the piece was left unfinished and never published. Despite this, it remains a classical piece with great appreciation among modern audiences. Anton Diabelli completed and published this piece which is sometimes called Beethoven’s Gypsy Music in 1828.
Beethoven was a true legend and genius, he’s work is timeless. His music has been admired for decades, here in our department alone. There is no doubt why he is considered the best composer of all time.
It’s awe inspiring that someone can be so great while their condition (in this case, deafness) is so bad. The fact that they were still able to come up with masterpieces in their final years means they’ll live on in the annals of history and human Greatness.
9. Violin Sonata No.9, Op.47 – ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata
We should always remember that Beethoven didn’t just compose his third symphony – in fact, had he died back in 1803, we would still consider him a great composer. It was written a few months before his Third Symphony and is characterized by similar traits to many of Beethoven’s works around this time.
The first movement of the Symphony has an anguished melody. The second movement is a triumphant theme and variations, while the final movement is a joyous dance. This is the longest sonata we have ever seen and it’s easy to see why. The music has an abundance of depth, with emotions being developed in great detail. It’s very hard for any pianists to play too!
10. Violin Concerto in D, Op.61
This concerto for violin was written in a time of amazing creativity and Beethoven’s most relaxed music. It allowed him to explore emotive, gentle sounds while composing other works which are more powerful. It is actually only a 40-minute outpouring of untroubled melody.
It’s very typical for the orchestra to have moments of harmonic and dynamic surprise which will hardly affect the surface. Though the first premiere of this piece was a failure, it has now become one of Beethoven’s most famous compositions.
11. Fidelio, Op.72
Beethoven was a real creative when it came to opera but Fidelio is the only one he created. It’s atypical of him but there are some amazing parts that will make you forget all about your life.
One of the most memorable scenes in opera is when Tosca stabs her blackmailer or Carmen fights off her cheating ex, for example. But the moment when Fidelio reveals herself to be a woman, heroically saves her husband, and then pulls a pistol out on her evil nemesis is nothing short of a firecracker.
One of the most memorable moments in Fidelio is the prisoners’ chorus in Act 1. The song celebrates their liberation and exposure to fresh air and sunlight so that Leonore can find her husband. The chorus tracks on the album ‘O Welche Lust’ sound like they were made by someone who was in ecstasy and kept within bounds.
12. String Quartet No.14 in C sharp minor, Op.131
The quartet is one of the most personal forms of music. It’s made up of a collection of instruments that interact in a more spontaneous way to create simple melodies. Beethoven’s final quartets are an intense, admittedly unconventional form of music that, if you are willing to push through it, can be an incredibly rewarding listen. The composer even considered these pieces “a kind of conversation with God” – try giving them a listen and see what you think!
Beethoven took a lifetime to write this, so you won’t get it in one go. Keep practicing it, and its logic and truthfulness will come through. There are seven movements, one right after the other. There are moments where you almost don’t know what’s happening and others where it sounds like Bach has come back to life. After hearing this string quartet five days before his death, Schubert remarked, “After this, what is left for us to write?”
13. Piano Sonata No.30 in E, Op.109
Beethoven wrote 32 piano sonatas. The last three are a trilogy and belong together. A brilliant English pianist who lived from 1849 to 1903, and who was one of the most spectacularly gifted players that has ever lived.
The first two movements are quite short, with the former emerging out of gentle tinkling raindrops. The last is where the real fun begins – a choral-like theme (and variations) that covers all of the grounds between Bach and Chopin before going into a delirium of ecstasy that calms back into the theme with a feeling of peace. It is a 20-minute musical thrill that you won’t forget. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is one of his best works.
14. String Quartet No. 13, Op. 130
Beethoven’s 5 Late Quartets are the single most intense body of work he ever wrote. They have 6 movements in Op 130. Beethoven’s ‘Cavatina’ is deeply emotional. The very first section is written in a style that makes it sound as if the violinist ‘weeping’, which was apparently what a friend of Beethoven told him. The final movement, called ‘Grosse Fuge’ was also too much for the symphony as a whole and it was later replaced by a more popular 4th movement.
15. String Quartet No. 15, Op. 132
The middle movement, named Heiliger Dankgesang, is the Holy Song of Thanks from Convalescent to the Godhead. It includes some amazing writing, which Beethoven produced shortly after recovering from a serious illness. He believed this would kill him.
Ludwig van Beethoven was possibly the most influential composer in the history of classical music, making it very hard to choose best of Beethoven’s orchestral works.
But to mark 250 years since his birth, we’ve been trying to come up with a list of the best orchestral pieces written by this talented composer. In the comments, please list your favorite Beethoven work!
FAQ for Best of Beethoven’s Orchestral Works
What is an orchestral symphony?
An orchestral symphony is a type of music which is written for an orchestra. Orchestral symphonies are usually in four movements.
The first movement is traditionally slow and expressive, the second movement fast and dance-like, the third movement slow again, and the fourth movement often in a lively tempo.
What is Beethoven’s most famous an orchestral symphony?
Beethoven’s most famous symphony is his Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67. It is a classic example of a symphony that follows the traditional four-movement structure:
1) Allegro con brio
2) Andante con moto
3) Scherzo: Allegro vivace
4) Finale: Allegro molto vivace
What makes Beethoven’s an orchestral Symphonies so popular?
The symphonies of Beethoven have been popular for over 200 years. They are still played and listened to today because of their universal appeal. The symphonies are part of the classical music genre that is often used in movies and TV shows.
Some people believe that it is the emotional quality, or soul, of the music that makes it so popular. Others think it is the complexity of his compositions that make them so appealing to listeners.
How many symphonies did Beethoven write in his lifetime?
Beethoven wrote nine symphonies over the course of his lifetime. The first symphony was written when Beethoven was 20 years old and the ninth symphony was written when he was 55 years old.
Is it possible to listen to all of Beethoven’s Symphonies in one day?
The answer is no, it is not possible to listen to all of Beethoven’s symphonies in one day.
There are nine symphonies and the longest one lasts for half an hour. If we assume that a person listens to music at a rate of 60 minutes per day, then it will take him or her more than three months to complete the symphonies.
What is the best Beethoven piano sonata?
The answer to this question is subjective. It all depends on the person and their taste in music. However, if you are asking for a ranking of Beethoven piano sonatas, then most people will agree that the following three are the best:
- No. 8 in C minor
- No. 14 in C sharp minor
- No. 23 in F major