Beethoven’s Ninth: where does integration happen? 6
A different way of hearing the beginning of the Schreckensfanfare, Mr Edgecombe ’s way, is as a conflation of the triads of D minor and Bb major. This already hints at the tonal integration that I want to propose as its structural purpose, but is made problematic by the bass note F, which would make of the Bb triad a quasi-cadential six-four that fails to resolve onto a triad of F.
But it is by hearing the fanfare ’s opening sonority of F, A, Bb and D as a constellation in its own right that its true integrative power becomes clear. The first movement begins, as it first seems, in A, major or minor. Then D minor is affirmed. The second subject is, unusually (and anticipating Schubert in the ‘Unfinished ’ Symphony), in Bb, the submediant, not in the mediant. The second movement is in D minor, with a D major trio. The Adagio molto e cantabile is in Bb again; here the Andante moderato second theme behaves very like the second subject in many Beethoven sonata-form movements, exposed in D major and recapitulated in G major, the latter key standing aside from the main key-scheme of the symphony, though it is also the key of the ‘Seit umschlungen’ section of the finale. F is not established as a stable key anywhere in the first three movements of the symphony, being, indeed, avoided as the ‘normal’ key for the second subjects of both the first and second movements, but most strikingly of all, the first four long notes of the Adagio theme are D–A–Bb–F.
In a manner that anticipates Schoenberg’s technique of deriving chords from a linear note-row, the first sound of the Schreckensfanfare superimposes the three most important keynotes of the symphony upon an F bass, forming a single chord of four notes that are also the first four notes of the third movement’s principal theme – a chord expressive of dissonance and disturbance. The fanfares are parts of the recitatives and share in the latter’s expression of that disturbance. Then each of the first three movements is cited in turn as a possible answer to the disturbance – three movements that are fashioned by an artist of genius, but belong to the old Classical order of hierarchical domination and closed forms, to which, though it is already in the open, progressive form of variations, even the slow movement still belongs by virtue of the sonata-like behaviour of its second theme. Finally the possibility of a new world-order is inarticulately glimpsed, together with the beginnings of an open variation form, but it is not until we have been reminded once more of the earlier distress, not yet assuaged, that the new mode of human existence is fully spelled out by the mutual specification of the music’s expression of emotion and the words’ articulation of ideas.