The opening four notes to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony are the most popular notes in Western music.
Dun dun dun dum …
They are stormy. Heroic. Disorienting. Short enough to be remembered. Portentous enough to be memorable.
Today you’ll find those notes everywhere. In movies, commercials, and songs when the dramatic and foreboding are needed … And we hardly bat an eye.
We recognize them, we know them, and we love those first four notes. Not so for Beethoven’s opening night at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien in 1808.
One contemporary composer of Beethoven — one who represented the consensus — said, “That sort of music should not be written.”