Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in Movies and TV

How many movies and TV shows feature Beethoven’s 7th Symphony?

Westworld (2018)
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Mr. Robot (2015)
The King’s Speech (2010)
Knowing (2009)
Love Exposure (2008)
The Man from Earth (2007)
The Fall (2006)

Irreversible (2002)
Photographing Fairies (1997)
Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)
Immortal Beloved (1994)
Parade of the Planets (1984)
Zardoz (1974)
Lola (1961)
The Black Cat (1934)

Answer: A lot!

And these are only the ones that use the 2nd movement of the symphony, the Allegretto.

Other parts of the symphony have been used in Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos,” Wes Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited,” “Seinfeld,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and “The Charlie Brown Easter Special.”

Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, 2nd movement, Allegretto:

The King’s Speech (2010)

Most famously, the Allegretto accompanied the climactic final speech scene in The King’s Speech.

In the film, Colin Firth plays Prince Albert, who must take the throne as King George VI. Afflicted with a speech impediment, he must work to overcome his stammer and deliver a crucial speech to England as it entered World War II.

The King’s Speech went on to win four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor.

Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)

In Mr. Holland’s Opus, the music teacher and composer Mr. Holland (played by Richard Dreyfuss) discovers that his newborn son is deaf. The next day, he teaches his music appreciation class about Beethoven and his deafness. Beethoven’s Allegretto underscores the scene to haunting effect.

Richard Dreyfuss was nominated for Best Actor for his role as Mr. Holland. The film has gone on to be a powerful and inspiring piece about the impact that teachers (especially music teachers) have on their students.

Immortal Beloved (1994)

In a film about Beethoven himself, how could Immortal Beloved not feature the Allegretto to underscore a tragic scene. In the film, Beethoven adopts his nephew Karl and pushes him to be a great pianist. Karl turns out to be a mediocre musician, but Beethoven either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. The Allegretto plays as Karl tries to end his own life.

Karl ends up missing (he is both a bad pianist and a bad shot) and injures himself instead. Immortal Beloved, featuring Gary Oldman as Beethoven, is a fascinating and moving (if slightly inaccurate) exploration of Beethoven’s life and motivations.

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

In X-Men: Apocalypse, an ancient mutant (named Apocalypse) emerges from hibernation and seeks to bring about a new world order. Apocalypse invades Dr. X’s mind and uses his machine to launch every nuclear warhead on the planet, destroying all the weapons they could fight him with.

X-Men Apocalypse was the final film of the X-Men prequel trilogy, starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence, and with Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse.

Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, 1st and 4th movements

The other movements of the symphony have also been used in films and TV, but to highlight excitement or energy rather than sadness. The first movement was used in Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” and the “Charlie Brown Easter Special,” and the last movement was used in Wes Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited” and “Seinfeld.”

This clip from the Carlie Brown Easter Special features the main melody of the first movement of the symphony. It is performed on flutes and other woodwinds instead of the full orchestra as Beethoven wrote it. The flutes lend this version a lighter, Spring-ier sound.

Conclusion

Beethoven’s 7th Symphony is one of the composer’s most popular works, both because of its excellent music and because of how often it is used in films and TV shows.

The second movement alone has been used in over 16 major films and TV series since 1934.

The first and fourth movements of the symphony have also been used in many films and TV shows, including: Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos,” Wes Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited,” “Seinfeld,” “Boardwalk Empire,” and “The Charlie Brown Easter Special.”

Listen to a full performance of the symphony below, or join the Fort Collins Symphony on August 12th, 2022 for a live performance at Timberline Church in Fort Collins, Colorado. Tickets and more information are available on our Beethoven Festival concert page.


Beethoven’s 7th Symphony:

Performance by Carlos Kleiber and the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam.

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