There are many myths and doubts about this title. Do we have evidence about the original intention of Beethoven naming his symphony after the so called fate motif?

  • I also wonder if the ' ...-' motif, also V in Morse code. (V=5) was co-incidental.
    – Tim
    Aug 31, 2020 at 9:42
  • @Tim: I thought that I was able to "think out of the box", but you seem to be a guru among the guru's on this topic :)))
    – virolino
    Aug 31, 2020 at 10:12
  • @Tim Wikipedia offers no evidence that the codepoint for V was derived from the opening of Beethoven's fifth symphony. Albrecht: if Beethoven didn't name the symphony, is there any evidence that he thought of the motif as a fate motif?
    – phoog
    Aug 31, 2020 at 13:03
  • 1
    I feel like this would be better on the music fans SE. This is the exact type of question that site was made for.
    – Dom
    Aug 31, 2020 at 21:04
  • @phoog: this is actually my concern! Is the motif meant „a knocking at the door”? Oct 8, 2020 at 5:29

2 Answers 2


The 5th symphony was first performed in 1808, and Morse code was invented in 1837, so there is no connection between them. Beethoven did not tell his publisher to name the symphony, though he did tell his publisher to name the 6th, which was first performed in the same concert as the 5th.

The name appears to have come from Beethoven's secretary and biographer Anton Schindler. The name Fate for symphony and motif appeared at a similar time, apparently from Schindler's report that Beethoven had described the theme as "Fate knocking at the door". Schindler might have been telling the truth, but there is considerable doubt.

  • So maybe part of 'Schindler's list'... Obviously more likely to be Morse than Beethoven, then.
    – Tim
    Aug 31, 2020 at 10:57
  • Tim is in the mood ;) Aug 31, 2020 at 16:00
  • I don't know about the facts about Beethoven's true intention on composing this masterpiece, but the idea of "Fate knocking at the door" does feel right!
    – Ricardo
    Aug 31, 2020 at 21:49

I agree with Peter that Schindler, Beethoven's secretary, has told this story about the fate that's knocking at the door.

But we have enough reason to doubt about it:


even though Bernstein refers to this myth in his educational video:

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