Having had the A minor experience a few days ago, I thought it would be interesting to conduct a census of the other slow symphonic movements of Beethoven. I have known them well for decades; I have played in performances of all of them (clarinet or oboe) with the Bulawayo Philharmonic Orchestra and National Orchestra of Zimbabwe in the 1980s.

So each one has an expectation and a subsequent experience:

Symphony No 1. F major. Expectation: No change because F major is proving to have a resilience beyond that expected of her gentle undemanding soul. Experience: as expected. Unvarying F major, and no modulation flirted with the raised semitone.

Symphony No 2: A major. Expectation: it might start in A major but would soon sound in B flat and its related keys. Experience: B flat major from the first chord till end last one.

Symphony No 3 (Eroica). C minor with C major ‘maggiore’ section in the middle. Expectation: To remain in the funereal C minor, but every now and then flirt with a switch to C sharp minor. C major section would not change. Experience: Totally solid in all its magnificence.

Symphony No 4: E flat major. Expectation: I would not be surprised if from beginning to end or soon after beginning it would be be in E major. E flat major is an unsteady key in this phase. This movement is the least well known of all the Beethoven symphonic movements to my cognitive and emotional brains.Experience: unequivocal E flat major. The Beethoven influence?

Symphony No 5: A flat major. Expectation: Unswerving A flat major, but a frisson of concern that I would be let down. Experience: No let down. A flat as it should be. Towering C major explosions unimpeded by doubts about key.

Symphony No 6 (Pastoral): B flat major. Expectation: Very unlikely to shift into B major with all its spiky sharps. Experience: A ghastly experience. I chose a version on Youtube in which the whole thing is a quarter tone sharp from concert pitch. This threw me out completely. The beginning was in a flat C major – nearly a whole tone from the expected B flat major. Gruesome! It was a relief to find (by rushing to the piano to check the key) that it was not because of my hearing that this happened. I did make myself listen to the whole thing, flat C major cuckoos and all. I will find another recording to do the test with.

Symphony No 7: See recent post on this movement that engendered this census.

Symphony No 8: B flat major, but not really a slow movement. But as with No 6, unlikely to shift into B major.

Symphony No 9 (Choral): B flat major again with Excursions into D major, G major and E flat major. Unlikely to shift as in the other B flat movements, but an expectation that it would quite easily happen soon because B major’s character would fit well with the smooth string scales as they become more and more liquid as the movement progresses. Experience: All the keys were as they should be, beginning to end. I wondered if the regular key shifts battened things down.