The Symphony No. 5 in C minor of Ludwig van Beethoven, Op. 67, was written between 1804 and 1808. It is one of the best-known compositions in classical music and one of the most frequently played symphonies, and it is widely considered one of the cornerstones of western music. First performed in Vienna’s Theater an der Wien in 1808, the work achieved its prodigious reputation soon afterward. E. T. A. Hoffmann described the symphony as “one of the most important works of the time”. As is typical of symphonies during the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is in four movements.
It begins with a distinctive four-note “short-short-short-long” motif:
The symphony, and the four-note opening motif in particular, are known worldwide, with the motif appearing frequently in popular culture, from disco versions to rock and roll covers, to uses in film and television.
Like Beethoven’s Eroica (heroic) and Pastorale (rural), Symphony No. 5 was given an explicit name besides the numbering, though not by Beethoven himself. It became popular under “Schicksals-Sinfonie” (Fate Symphony), and the famous five bar theme was called the “Schicksals-Motiv” (Fate Motif). This name is also used in translations