The Philharmonic Society of London originally commissioned the symphony in 1817. The main composition work was done between autumn 1822 and the completion of the autograph in February 1824. The symphony emerged from other pieces by Beethoven that, while completed works in their own right, are also in some sense “sketches” (rough outlines) for the future symphony. The Choral Fantasy, Op. 80 (1808), basically a piano concerto movement, brings in a choir and vocal soloists near the end for the climax.
The vocal forces sing a theme first played instrumentally, and this theme is reminiscent of the corresponding theme in the Ninth Symphony (for a detailed comparison, see Choral Fantasy). Going further back, an earlier version of the Choral Fantasy theme is found in the song “Gegenliebe [fr]” (Returned Love) for piano and high voice, which dates from before 1795. According to Robert W. Gutman, Mozart’s K. 222 Offertory in D minor, “Misericordias Domini”, written in 1775, contains a melody that foreshadows “Ode to Joy”.