“Since Mozart’s day composers have learned the art of making music throatily and palpitatingly sexual.”
Here’s my list of the nine greatest climaxes in Music. I’ve listed them in order of the more gentle and civilised towards the most brutal, animal, gut-curdling.
1. Mozart, Symphony 40, Movement 4
This is the most delicate yet effective ending ever. It summarises and the same time resolves the pain of the foregoing movements, making the heart melt into tears. Sweet Mozart! How much we love you!
2. Beethoven, Symphony 6, Movement 4
Symphony 6 has been described – I don’t remember by who – as defining the relationship between man and nature. The “redeeming” theme at the end completes that definition; it is parallel to what a man feels when in harmony with nature – while also serving as a climax to the Master-Composition.
3. Beethoven, Symphony 5, First Movement
Need we say anything about this? It evokes pity, sadness, will, courage, beauty, wonder, and misery – all at the same time.
4. Brahms, Piano Concerto 2, Movement 1
The finale takes us into a deep cave where God resides – into the sanctum sanctorum, as it were. We emerge from the cave not re-energised, but angered.
5. Beethoven, Symphony 9, Movement 1
The utter thumping theme of “I’ll be back” – not in the Schwarzenegger sense – is so powerful, the strongest of minds is overwhelmed.
6. Beethoven, Symphony 5, Movement 4
This is the greatest of the non-brutal endings, where fate and free-will come together such that the Man masters Life.
7. Brahms, Symphony 4, Movement 1
Chills to through the flesh to the bones. It is too powerful for many humans to digest. It is surreal, unreal, ethereal. It kills. It absolutely kills anything in its path. It kills whatever is not in its path, too. But Brahms is a liar, unlike Herr Mozart or Herr Beethoven.
8. Dvorak, Symphony 9, Movement 1
This is my favourite. It is too animal to speak of; the enemy is not only butchered, he is stamped upon, his bones broken and buried. And then the ground where this happened is extinguished by forces that join the original with the final: “Laßt dem Anfang mit dem Ende”!!
9. Der Herr Ludwig van Beethoven, die Appassionata, dritter Satz
…And finally the third movement of the Appassionata. The Spirit wakes from its sleep; it realises what has been going on during its deep Sleep. It rises, it resolves, it begins to fight, defeat, kill. It kills; it defeats. And it goes on as though nothing had happened; and then it re-realises the sheer insult of the Sleep; and it kills again. And to ensure that nothing that it has stamped upon the Ground re-emerges, it makes its statement to God that the Enemy has been defeated; and God extends it Powers to the Infinite – wherein the Enemy cannot bear the thought of re-emerging. It is not Victory, but God and the Will that reign. Nachdem der Totaler Krieg ist es vollgebracht.