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Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21

Beethoven's image with a graphic.

Beethoven's First Symphony, dedicated to Baron Gottfried Van Swieten, came at age 29. Fittingly, it was the dawn of a new century. It appeared late in what scholars define as the first period of Beethoven's career, just a year or two before the crisis brought about by his gradual loss of hearing. By the mid-1790s, Beethoven had tried most of the important instrumental genres, save for symphony and string quartet. Those were the pieces in which his teacher Haydn had made his greatest mark and enjoyed his most significant successes. When Beethoven did come forward with his first symphonies, he built on the achievements of Haydn and Mozart while not hiding his debt to them. Contemporaries reacted to the work by using the word "masterpiece" repeatedly and praising its "originality."

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