About this Recording
8.553431 - BEETHOVEN: Overtures, Vol. 2

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 -1827)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 -1827)

Overtures Vol. 2

Die Weihe des Hauses (The Consecration of the House), Op. 124

Zur Namensfeier (Name-Day Celebration), Op. 115

Leonora No.1, Op. 138

Leonora No.2, Op. 72

Konig Stephan (King Stephen), Op. 117

Musik zu einem Ritterballett (Music for a Knightly Ballet), WoO I


1. Marsch (March)

2. Deutscher Gesang (German Song)

3. Jagdlied -Deutscher Gesang (Hunting Song -German Song)

4. Romanze -Deutscher Gesang (Romance -German Song)

5. Kriegslied- Deutscher Gesang (War-Song -German Song)

6. Trinklied- Deutscher Gesang (Drinking-Song -German Song)

7. Deutscher Tanz (German Dance)

8. Coda


Trauermarsch (Funeral March) for Leonore Prohaska, WoO 96/4

Triumphmarsch (Triumphal March) for Tarpeja, WoO 2a


Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn in 1770, the grandson of Kapellmeister Ludwig van Beethoven, director of music at the court of the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, and, less satisfactorily, son of a singer at the time in the service of the same patron, but later to be pensioned off for drunkenness and consequent incompetence. The younger Beethoven, however, survived the vicissitudes of childhood to enter the Archbishop's service as a keyboard-player and violist. In 1792 he moved, with his patron's encouragement, to Vienna, taking some lessons from Haydn and, more profitably he alleged, from other teachers in the Imperial capital. In Vienna he established himself as a pianist and composer of great originality, attracting the active support of leading aristocratic families. This patronage stood him in good stead with the early onset of deafness from the age of thirty , allowing him to continue his work primarily as a composer. Deafness brought a measure of isolation and ever increasing eccentricities of behaviour, born with toleration by his admirers and supporters. His achievement, one of remarkable originality and power, was to expand the classical forms and textures of his predecessors, suggesting new ways forward, while providing music of a stature that his successors found it difficult to equal. His death in 1827 was widely mourned both in Vienna and elsewhere.


Beethoven's connection with the theatre was limited. His only opera, the

Singspiel Fidelio, with a libretto by Sonnleithner based on a French original,

Bouilly's Leonore ou L'amour conjugal, was unfortunate in its timing. It was first performed in Vienna, at the Theater an der Wien, on 20th November 1805, a week after the occupation of the city by French troops, with Napoleon now established at the palace of Schonbrunn, and the Empress, in whose honour the work had been intended, now, with the rest of the Imperial family, in temporary exile from the capital. The opera deals with the rescue of a political prisoner,

Florestan, by his faithful wife Leonora, who disguises herself as a boy, Fidelio, and takes service in the prison, able, in the nick of time, to save her husband.

There are four different overtures to Fidelio. The first of these, later published as Opus 138, was discarded before the first performance, since Beethoven's friends found it too insubstantial for the drama to come, a judgement that the composer accepted, providing a second overture, which was used at the three performances given in 1805; A third overture, now the best known in concert repertoire, was devised for a revival of the opera in revised form in 1806 and a fourth, known as the Fidelio overture, was written for a later revival of the opera in a further revision in 1814. The present release contains the first and second Leonora overtures, each with a slow introduction followed by an Allegro, with the second containing the more familiar material in its principal theme and off-stage fanfare announcing the arrival of the king's representative, who will put all finally to rights.


The overture Die Weihe des Hauses (The Consecration of the House) was written in 1822 for the opening of the Josephstadt Theatre in Vienna. The theatre-director Carl Friedrich Hensler, director also of the theatres in Pressburg (Bratislava) and Baden, had met Beethoven in the latter resort, where the composer was on holiday in September. For the opening of the theatre Carl Meisl, Commissioner of the Royal Imperial Navy, had written a paraphrase of August von Kotzebue's Ruinen van Athen, for which Beethoven had written music when it had been used in 1812 for the opening of the theatre in Pesth. The new overture made Handelian use of a motif that had occurred to Beethoven during the course of a walk at Baden with Anton Schindler and his nephew.


The overture and further incidental music for Kotzebue's Konig Stephan,

Ungarns erster Wohlthater was written in 1811 and performed at the opening of the Pesth Theatre in the following year, the work intended as a prologue in

honour of the legendary Hungarian king.


Beethoven's Namensfeier Overture was written in 1814, completed, it seems, on the eve of the first day of the Wine-Month (October), the Emperor's name-day. In fact the overture celebrates rather more than that imperial occasion, coming, as it did, at the end of the wars that had seen the rise and fall of Napoleon. It was first performed on Christmas Day 1815 at a concert for the Biirgerspitalfond, together with a setting of Goethe's Die Meeresstille and the oratorio Christus am Olberg.


The music for the Ritterbal1ett, once attributed to Count Waldstein, was written in Bonn, where it was first performed on 6th March, Quinquagesima Sunday, 1791, in the Ridotto Room. The local nobility took part, dressed in traditional old German costume and celebrating the chief interests of earlier generations, described as war, hunting, love and drinking, elements faithfully reflected in the music, interspersed with a Deutsche Gesang. Count Waldstein, who had collaborated with the dancing-master Habich in mounting this event, was much congratulated on its success. The music is apt for its original purpose.


The Funeral March, familiar from the Piano Sonata, Opus 26, was orchestrated for use in incidental music for Duncker's play Leonore Prohaska, while the Triumphal March, first performed on 26th March 1813, was for the play Tarpeja by Christoph Kuffner.


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