What would it have been like to hear Beethoven's seventh symphony at the first performance? How did listeners react to hearing the endless repetition of the first movement's dotted rhythm? Would they have been shocked to hear the melody of the second movement which repeats the same note twelve times? How did they respond to the finale's obsessive rhythmical drive which must have seemed like the rock music of the nineteenth century? It's ‘exciting' to hear this well known symphony together with contemporary works which may have been performed in the same year. Wilhelm Wilms followed the classical tradition of Haydn and Mozart with some innovative moments. His 5th symphony, composed a few years earlier had been published during the time when Beethoven worked on his masterpiece. The most popular composer of the day was undoubtedly Rossini. He created a completely new vocal style that influenced many other musicians. The slow movement of Weber's clarinet concerto for example sounds more operatic than instrumental in character. This was the environment in which Beethoven developed his strikingly original ideas. It must have been quite an ‘ear opener' to hear a symphony start with gentle wind chamber music supported by massive accents of the rest of the orchestra. What a contrast! Iván Fischer On 8 and 12 December 1813, two charity concerts took place in Vienna during which Ludwig von Beethoven conducted some new orchestral works. In the fall of that year the combined Austrian and Bavarian troops had beaten the French troops in the decisive battle at Hanau, ringing in a long expected beginning of the end of the Napoleontic wars. It had been a terribly bloody battle with many victims on both sides. The proceeds of the two concerts accrued to the widows and orphans of the fallen Austrian soldiers. It is understandable that in the euphoria of that moment, the Austrian victory on the French, Beethoven's works that were performed were considered victory music.