On April 29th, 1865, the Academy of Music put on a performance for one evening. There were works from a few different composers performed at this concert. One piece worth highlighting is Beethoven’s 9th symphony. It’s worth mentioning that the program of this concert specifies that the first part of the symphony was performed. It is also shown that this was the last piece performed for part one of the two part concert. This raises a few questions in my mind. Why was only the “first part” of Symphony №9 performed? Also why was this the last piece for part one of the concert?

Looking to find the answers to my first question, to me there is an obvious answer. The entirety of Beethoven's Symphony №9 is over an hour long. For a concert that only lasts one evening, there would simply not be enough time to perform many other pieces. Looking further at what is written on the program, it says that movements 1–3 were performed. With that being said, I wouldn’t classify that as the “first part” given that the symphony only has four movements. So then why leave out specifically the 4th movement, Ode to Joy?

Trying to find an answer as to why this was the last piece of part one of the concert, I went and listened to some of the symphony. The ending of the third movement, Adagio molto e cantabile, is very beautiful. The music slowly fades and ends on a very soft and beautiful chord. But to me personally, it does not feel complete. Perhaps this was done on purpose so the audience would return and listen to part two of the concert. Presumably there may have been an intermission between part one and part two but the program does not specify.

Part of this performance that is also worth mentioning is there was another Beethoven composition played during part one. The opening on the concert was Beethoven’s Marcia Funebre from Symphony №3 (Erocia). As I was about to question why this piece was chosen as an opener to the concert I saw a small note that says (see third page). This page is where it expresses that the concert will open with that piece as a tribute to the passing of the President of the United States. This page also explains that it is for that reason that the “Hymn to Joy” will be omitted for the concert.

To compare this concert to the world premiere of Beethoven’s Symphony №9, there are a few differences. The world premiere took place on May 7th, 1824. This concert, like I said earlier, took place on April 29th, 1865. The world premiere was in Vienna and this concert was in New York. Looking at the program, it seems the instrumentation is the same as the premiere. However, the concert excludes the instruments that are exclusive to the fourth movement.