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8.550112 - BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 / Leonore Overture No. 1
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770- 1827)
Symphony No. 3 in E Flat Major, Opus 53 “Eroica”
Allegro con brio
Marcia funebre: Adagio assai
Scherzo: Allegro vivace
Finale: Allegro molto
Leonora Overture No.1, Opus 138
exercised the strongest influence over the minds of many of his contemporaries
inspiration for Beethoven's third symphony seems to have come from the French
of the completed symphony was seen by Beethoven’s friends early in 1804,
bearing on its title-page the name Buonaparte and the subscription Luigi van
Beethoven. Ferdinand Ries tells how, at the news that Napoleon had proclaimed
himself Emperor, Beethoven angrily tore up the page, leaving on his own copy
the words Sinfonia grande, with the
added pencil note, geschrieben auf Bonaparte.
In the composer's mind, whatever the fate of the title-page, the work remained
a Bonaparte symphony, although it was eventually dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz,
for an immediate reward of 400 ducats. It has been suggested that any change in
Beethoven’s plans for the dedication of the work may in part have been modified
by his decision not to visit
The first publication of the E Flat Symphony described it as Sinfonia eroica composta per festiggiare il Souvenire di un grand’Uomo, a heroic symphony composed to celebrate the memory of a great man. These words were followed by the dedication to Prince Lobkowitz. In 1805, of course, Napoleon was very much alive, and it was, in any case, said that the funeral march that forms the second movement had been written after the death of the British General Sir Ralph Abercromby, killed at Alexandria in 1801, or even, perhaps, intended for Nelson, who had just failed to die at the Battle of the Nile a few years before. Nevertheless the Eroica Symphony, as it has come to be known, remained for its composer inextricably associated with Napoleon. After Bonaparte’s death in exile, Beethoven remarked that he had already written the music for that occasion.
The symphony has a number of original features. It is, in the first place, a long work, leading Beethoven to suggest that it should be played near the beginning of a concert programme, anticipating, perhaps, his own later failure in concert planning with programmes of incredible length and weight. The slow movement is in the form of a funeral march, a scherzo replaces the classical minuet as a third movement, and the final movement is a set of variations.
The first movement of the Eroica Symphony, monumental in conception, summons our attention with two loud chords, followed by the principal theme, played by the cellos. There is a more elusive second subject, an adventurous development and a recapitulation that has a false start from the French horns, accused by one who heard the first rehearsal of a failure in counting.
The funeral march is grandiose in scale, the double basses suggesting the muffled drums of the dead march at its opening, thus making the entry of the timpani themselves even more effective. The tension engendered is interrupted by the soft notes that introduce the Scherzo, significantly extended in length, the Trio allowing the horns due prominence.
The finale makes use of a theme from the ballet Prometheus, completed in 1801. This is offered first in skeletal form, to be varied with contrasting fugal ingenuity and passing serenity, before the triumphant conclusion.
only opera, Fidelio, based on a French original and dealing with the rescue of
a political prisoner, Florestan, from incarceration and imminent death, through
the loyalty of his wife, Leonora, who disguises herself as a boy, Fidelio, to
achieve her ends. The first performances of the work in November, 1805, at the
Theater ander Wien, came ata bad time, a week after Napoleon’s armies had
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