Color the Music Project

featuring “Symphony No. 6 (Pastoral)”, Op. 68, by Ludwig van Beethoven


Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer and musician. His musical talent was recognized from an early age when his father began teaching him piano and throughout his life he studied piano, violin, viola, and composition with many teachers. He moved from Bonn, Germany, to Vienna in 1792 and devoted himself to performance and study. He studied composition with Franz Joseph Haydn (Father of the Symphony) for two years. While it is not documented that he studied with Mozart, he certainly heard Mozart’s music throughout Vienna and was influenced by it. By his late 20s Beethoven’s hearing was beginning to deteriorate and by 1811 he gave up performing and conducting because of his hearing loss. However, he continued to compose until his death in 1827.


Symphony No. 6 is the only one of his 9 symphonies Beethoven actually named, although many of his other compositions were given names by his friends (e.g. “Moonlight Sonata”, “Choral Symphony”). The full title Beethoven used was “Pastoral Symphony or Recollections of Country Life” and he publicly declared that this symphony was an expression of nature. He loved escaping from the hustle and bustle of the city life of Vienna walking in the nearby countryside and woods. At one point he wrote:

“How glad I am to be able to roam in the wood and thicket, among trees and

flowers and rocks…in the country, every tree seems to speak to me saying,

“holy! Holy!” in the woods, there is enchantment which expresses all things.”

(from a letter, 1810)

Beethoven wrote most of this symphony in the spring and fall of 1808 but included some sketches from earlier years. It is in five movements instead of four movements, which was the normal symphony format of that time. However, movements three, four, and five go straight into the next one without any pause.


Listen to the following recording performed by the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and conducted by Paavo Jarvi.

The timings for the 5 movements are listed here, along with Beethoven’s titles for each movement and some descriptors for each one:

1. 00:00 “Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside” — sets the

scene for a sense of well-being and happiness upon arrival in the countryside

2. 12:08 “Scene by the Brook” — listen for instruments whose sounds depict a

flowing stream or a babbling brook and for the sound of three

birds — the nightingale, the quail, and the cuckoo

3. 23:49 “Merry Gathering of Countryfolk” — dancing, games, and good times

together with friends in the country. This happy time is interrupted

by the arrival of a storm!

4. 29:05 “Thunderstorm” — summertime storm comes quickly, and, just as

quickly, leaves!

5. 32:25 “Shepherd’s Song. Cheerful and thankful feelings after the storm.” —

people happily reemerge after taking shelter from the storm with,

perhaps, a prayer of thankfulness for their safety from the storm. Can you “hear” a rainbow??


  1. Choose one (or more) of the movements of this symphony and create an artwork depicting the music you hear. Think about how Beethoven must have felt when he was able to leave the city life of Vienna and spend time in the surrounding countryside. Think about how you would feel if you were able to leave the Washington, DC city area for a day to spend in the countryside of Maryland or Virginia. Decide how your artwork will reflect the music you hear.
  1. Listen to the music for your chosen picture of country life several times. Let the music inspire your design:
    • Is the sound loud and bold or soft and gentle?
    • Peaceful?
    • Happy?
    • Reflective?
    • Sad?
    • Quick or slow?
    • Smooth?
    • Staccato(detached)?

How can your art reflect your answers to these questions?


  • You may use any 2-D medium — crayons, colored pencils, watercolors, oils, pastels, etc. Pencil line drawings are not encouraged for this project.
  • Art should be on white paper either 8”x10”, 9”x12” or 11”x17” in size. LARGER SIZES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED due to limited space!
  • Accepted artwork will be displayed in the Strathmore Hall lobby the weekend of May 5, 2018 during the National Philharmonic’s concert which will include their performance of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING ARTWORK FOR THIS CONCERT IS FRIDAY, APRIL 27, 2018 at 4 PM to the National Philharmonic Office located on the second floor of the Music Center at Strathmore.

For questions, contact:

Isabel Carpio at

Sara Josey at

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