How many symphonies did Beethoven write?

An introduction to the 19th-century composer's great orchestral works

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How many symphonies did Beethoven write?
Score of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony
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Beethoven composed nine complete symphonies.

Beethoven first played around with writing a symphony in 1796, but it wasn't until 1800 that his official First Symphony, in C major, was premiered. He went on to compose nine complete symphonies, culminating with the groundbreaking Choral Symphony in D minor, which was first heard in 1824.

 

 

• A Guide to Beethoven's Symphony No. 1

• A Guide to Beethoven's Symphony No. 5

 

Sketches for a Tenth Symphony exist, but Beethoven didn't finish the piece. In the 1980s, musicologist Barry Cooper assembled the surviving material to create a performable version, which was played by the Royal Philharmonic Society in 1988 and published by Universal Edition in 2013.

Beethoven is reported to have said that one of his preoccupations was the form a tenth symphony should take, as he wished 'to create in it a new gravitational force… this time without a chorus'.

 

• Composer guide: Beethoven

• The 10 greatest symphonies according to Twitter

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