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Uploaded on Aug 4, 2009
The Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 73 was composed by Johannes Brahms in the summer of 1877 during a visit to the Austrian Alps. Its gestation was brief in comparison with the fifteen years which Brahms took to complete his First Symphony. The symphony is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, and strings.
The cheerfulness of the Symphony has been likened with the pastoral mood of Ludwig van Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. In contrast, Brahms' First Symphony was marked by its sombre tonality (C minor).
IV. Allegro con spirito
Busy-sounding (but quiet) strings begin the final movement. A loud section breaks in unexpectedly in bar 23 with the full orchestra. As the excitement appears to fade away, violins introduce a new subject in A major marked "largamente" (to be played broadly). The wind instruments would repeat this and develops into the other instruments as well. Bar 155 of the movement repeats the symphony's first subject again but instead of the joyful outburst heard earlier, Brahms introduced the movement's development section. A mid-movement "tranquillo" section (bar 206) elaborates earlier material. The first theme comes in again (bar 244) and the familiar orchestral forte is played. This time, instead of the A major theme in the "largamente" marking, Brahms allows the theme to be reprised in the symphony's home key of D major. Towards the end of the symphony, descending chords and a mazy run of notes by various instruments of the orchestra (bars 395 to 412) sound out the familiar A major theme again but this time drowned out in a blaze of brass instruments as the symphony ends on a triumphant note by the full orchestra complete with a timpani roll.
Movement four, Allegro con spirito, follows the Beethovenian tradition of having a weighty finale to end the symphony. In this case, Brahms succeed in creating a finale that was worthy enough to step out of the shadows represent the second age of symphony. What is interesting in this movement is how it contrast the first movement. Not only is this movement faster and in a brighter key, the melodic lines of this entire movement will constantly move in ascending lines, which is exactly opposite of the melody of what the first movement in which it would progress in descending melodic lines. This movement is in a very broad sonata form containing a very large coda from measures 353 to the end. Brahms yet again follows the Beethovenian tradition of the expanded form. The exposition has been expanded to the largest section of the sonata form. As true as we have seen in the previous three movements, to sate the theme or idea, he repeats them in different voices in order for the listener to apprehend this idea. In this movement, there are two very important ideas that come into play; the main theme and a second theme. This main theme is used to sate the beginning of the exposition, the development, and exposition. The second theme is used to introduce the coda and also to provide some amount of tension and will then be used to help energize the coda. There is another effect that Brahms uses in this movement is constant momentum. At measure 221, the movement slows down at the tranquillo. Brahms specifically slows down the movement to help create a build up of energy into the recapitulation. It is here that we see a new theme that is introduced that will appear briefly in the coda. This new theme closely resembles the main and secondary theme as this theme contains both the neighbour note passage and the upward leap of the third. To increase the thematic unity of the piece, Brahms then overlaps these two themes at measure 375.