Maestro Van Zweden Leads a Mesmerizing Performance of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall

in SF Concert Reviews by

The third sold-out night of Jaap van Zweden conducting Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony could not have been more poetic as concertgoers had to brave the dark stormy night for a chance to witness one of the greats. Ludwig Van’s composition stands as a monumental masterpiece in the world of classical music. Composed between 1804 and 1808, this symphony is renowned for its distinctive four-note motif that opens the first movement, creating an iconic and instantly recognizable theme.

The symphony is divided into four movements, with the first movement, Allegro con brio, being particularly famous. The relentless energy and dramatic tension built throughout captivated listeners with its powerful orchestration and dynamic contrasts.

The second movement, Andante con moto, provides a contrasting, more lyrical experience, offering moments of reflection and emotional depth. The third movement, Scherzo: Allegro, injects a playful and lively spirit into the composition, showcasing Beethoven’s skill in crafting diverse musical moods.

The final movement, Allegro, is a triumph of musical innovation. The relentless drive towards the climactic finale, marked by a triumphant resolution of the earlier themes, leaves a lasting impression. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is not only a musical masterpiece but also a symbol of resilience and conquest over adversity.

Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony continues to be celebrated for its groundbreaking structure, emotional intensity, and timeless appeal. It remains a cornerstone of classical music, influencing generations of composers and leaving an indelible mark on the musical landscape. Last night, Jaap Van Zweden’s commanding presence and tumultuous movements brought everyone to their feet for multiple rounds of applause. It was a memorable evening and a perfect introduction to what’s in store for us at the symphony in the coming year. Bravo!

Photo by Dario Acosta courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for and, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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