It’s one of my best works.
Beethoven, at its premiere at the University in Vienna on December 8, 1813
Last year I watched the HBO series, “Watchmen,” which is based on the graphic novel of the same name. I loved it so much that I bought the Blu Ray of it. Am going through it again now and last night a song jumped out that suddenly seemed so familiar, like I’d heard it before (other than in this series.) Going to imdb and then doing a general google search, I identified it as Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92: II. Allegretto.” It is the 2nd movement of 4 in Symphony No. 7.
Beethoven’s life at this time was marked by a worsening hearing loss. I remember reading a letter that Beethoven wrote to his brothers, titled The Heiligenstadt Testament , some years ago and weeping, where he talks about the anguish and helplessness of it. Written in 1802, the letter was opened 25 years after it was written, following Beethoven’s death at age 56.
The symphony is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in A (E and D in the inner movements), 2 trumpets in D, timpani, and strings.
What really caught my eye at wiki was how many different films and series have used it. No wonder Allegretto sounds so familiar. Besides “Watchmen,” which isn’t in the list, it’s also been used in:
The 1934 horror film The Black Cat features the second movement prominently.
The 1974 science fiction film Zardoz (1974), directed by John Boorman. An excerpt from the Second Movement is played over the closing montage and the end credits.
The first episode of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (1980) features the first movement to “underscore the vastness and diversity of Earth with its ‘resplendent spaciousness'”.
The 1995 drama film Mr. Holland’s Opus uses the second movement to underscore the high school music teacher Mr. Holland recounting the tragedy of Beethoven’s hearing loss, with Holland’s son being deaf and unable to share his father’s passion for music.
The 2006 film The Fall uses the second movement at several points in the film.
The 2006 live-action adaption of Nodame Cantabile uses the first movement as the opening theme. The 2007 anime adaptation uses it as the ending theme
The 2007 comedy-drama film The Darjeeling Limited uses the fourth movement.
The 2009 science fiction film Knowing uses the second movement during the climactic scene, a mass exodus from apocalyptic Boston.
In the 2010 historical drama film The King’s Speech, the second movement is used during King George’s climactic speech at Buckingham Palace after the commencement of the country’s involvement in World War II. The slow build up of the movement “accents his struggle and his perseverance”.
In the 2016 superhero film X-Men: Apocalypse the second movement is played during the launch of all the world’s nuclear weapons.
Take a listen and give it your full attention to appreciate its magnificence.