Who doesn’t take notice at those four opening notes, and the echoing four that follow, of
Everyone knows the four opening notes of Ludwig van Beethoven’s revered Fifth Symphony. When we hear Da-da-da-dum, we know something momentous is coming, because it is one of the most popular and well-known classical compositions ever written. It has a link to war, which will be explained further on.

The Folsom Lake Symphony has chosen Beethoven’s Fifth to headline their next concert, on April 2nd.

In the “The Spirit of Freedom” concert, Beethoven’s Fifth, Jean Sibelius’ “Finlandia” and Aram Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in D minor will make the Harris Center come alive.


The music of Finlandia is turbulent and brooding, evoking the struggle against Russia, until its serene “Finlandia hymn” near the end. In 1941, words were added to the hymn, and it has since become one of the most important national songs of Finland. The Christian hymn is “Be Still, My Soul.”

“The three pieces salute freedom from oppression. Sibelius, generally considered Finland’s most illustrious composer, wrote his tone poem ‘Finlandia’ in 1899 for a protest demonstration against the Russian Empire’s increasing censorship of the Finnish press (Russia controlled Finland at the time). The piece premiered July 2, 1900, in Helsinki. To avoid being censored, it was often performed under different names.”

Khachaturian Violin Concerto

Another link to Russia is the Violin Concerto by Armenian composer Khachaturian. A delightful lively concerto with Armenian country dance and ethnic folk flourishes, it too has overtones of war.

This violin concerto premiered in Moscow in 1940, the Soviet Union became involved in World War II. In 1941, it won the Stalin Prize for arts. Khachaturian was educated in Russia, but his Armenian background made him a symbol of the Russian ideal of their multinational culture.

kerson leong violinist, with violin.

Violinist Kerson Leong.

Violinist Kerson Leong will solo for the Khachaturian concerto.This 19 year old gained international acclaim and recognition for his virtuosity. Publicity for the concert tells us more about Leong: “At age 13, he won the junior first prize at the prestigious Menuhin Competition in Oslo, and he was recently awarded the grand prize at the 2014 Canadian Stepping Stone competition, the 2015 Radios Francophones Publiques “Young Soloist Prize” and the Canadian National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary. He performs on a recently acquired 1691 ‘Auer’ Stradivarius violin.”

Beethoven Fifth Symphony

The familiar four-note Da-da-da-dum that opens and repeats throughout the symphony is a dramatic effect that Beethoven created, some say representing “fate knocking at the door.”

That rhythm, three short taps and one long, as my father, a communications Sergeant in WWII would tell me, is Morse code for the letter “V.” This is the reason the Fifth symphony was used in the postwar movie “The Longest Day,” and it came to represent victory in World War II.

Tickets are available at The Harris Center and Three Stages theater ticket office on Folsom Lake College campus, on the www.folsomlakesymphony.com website, or by calling 916-608-688.