The Symphony No. 6 in F major, op. 68, with the epithet "Pastoral" was composed in 1807/08 and is Beethoven's only symphony to consist of five movements. One of the composer's few works with explicit programmatic content, the symphony was premiered at the Theater an der Wien on 22 December 1808.
As a forerunner of later programme music, Beethoven based this symphony on the impressions of a (city) man in nature and pastoral (meaning rural) surroundings. The five movements deal with different situations, which come together to form a complete work. In the first sketches, the 6th Symphony was called "Sinfonia caracteristica oder Erinnerung an das Landleben" and "Sinfonia pastorella"; only when it was printed did Beethoven call it "Pastoral Symphony or Memories of Country Life". Since Beethoven was critical of the musical representation of an extra-musical content in the sense of programme music and was also concerned that his work might be misunderstood by the public and critics, he added to this designation in brackets the much-quoted addition "More expression of feeling than painting" and also insisted on the literal reproduction of this carefully formulated designation on the title page of the printed score, which was, however, disregarded in the first edition in 1809. "One leaves it to the listener to figure out the situations," the composer said. "Anyone who ever gets even an idea of country life can think for themselves what the author wants without many headings."