Colouring the Sound

Tommaso De Meo's Visual Interpretations of Beethoven's Nine Symphonies

The Fifth Symphony

Fifth Symphony, First Movement

Fate, the dominant topic of the Fifth Symphony, first appears before us in the guise of a darkened but still blazing sun, which - analogous to the composition's illustrious opening theme - rises mightily above the roofs and towers of a great city. Alas, its otherwise all-illuminating light is wasted on a city whose houses have neither doors nor windows - akin to fate herself, who may come unto men, yet is not received. The light is in the world, yet men love darkness rather than light.

Fifth Symphony, Second Movemen

The four notes of the opening motif are reflected, like light from distant cave mouths, in the tranquil waters of the second movement: their reflections are drawn through the gentle waves, are refracted in them, yet are always clearly visible. The forbidding, craggy landscape itself, with its vertical and horizontal brush-strokes, which are only ever pierced by that glow, speaks of both dissociation and harmony, leaving the beholder with an impression of a painted vibrato.

Fifth Symphony, Third Movement

Per aspera - in the presence of the forces of fate and nature, the human mind comes undone. Open, naked, stripped of all defences, the mind, deprived of its terra firma, cannot withstand the onslaught any longer; intellect and reason are annihilated, their remains draining away through the chasms and crevices of a shattered earth. The only point in the dismal, storm-tossed sky in which the Roman painter grants the eye a modicum of light is ripped apart by a jagged thunderbolt as if by Jupiter Fulgur himself.

Fifth Symphony, Fourth Movement

Ad astra. The rough and sublime journey is over: a blazing sun, that no shadow and no darkness can stand in front of, at last fills the universe with its light in a final, scintillating triumph. Where once stood a city which haughtily shut itself away from the light, there is now the earth, which may seem barren, yet whose soil bears life everywhere; life which grows and strives towards the pure light. Only one figure in the corner, whose shape is reminiscent of a man transformed into a tree by the gods, is pointed downwards, contrary to the motion of the rest of nature.