Beethoven in London

Isaiah F O'Mack
2 min readMar 22, 2021


While searching for reviews of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, I came across a review of the first rehearsal of the symphony by the Royal Philharmonic Society in The Times. This rehearsal occurred on February 1, 1825, and the premiere in London occurred on March 21, 1825, which is nearly a year after the premiere in Vienna.

Review of a Philharmonic Society rehearsal in The Times (February 3, 1825)

While reading the review, I realized that the rehearsal greatly differed from the premiere in Vienna in a few ways, which shows just how hastily put together the premiere was. This makes sense considering that Beethoven had trouble finding a venue for the Vienna premiere. One of the key differences that I noticed is that the rehearsal mentioned in the review was a rehearsal of the London Philharmonic Society, which was “in a state of great perfection.” This contrasts the Vienna premiere, where the orchestra was made up of “dilettantes.” The London Philharmonic Society would have been much better prepared to perform the symphony. I also noticed that the London Philharmonic Society had significantly more time to rehearse than the musicians in the Vienna premiere. The London Philharmonic Society was able to rehearse for over a month, while the musicians in Vienna had a total of three rehearsals.

I was also intrigued by the way the critic praised the “originality” of the symphony. I did not expect the originality of the final movement to be so well-received by so many people. I though that Beethoven would have received some criticism for breaking away from tradition.