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Symphony No. 3 (Beethoven)

From Academic Kids

The Symphony No. 3 in E Flat Major by Ludwig van Beethoven, Opus 55 (known as the Eroica - Italian for Heroic) is a work many consider to herald the dawn of musical Romanticism.

Contents

Composition and premire

This symphony is one of Beethoven's most famous works, originally intended by him to be dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte. Beethoven had admired the ideals of the French Revolution embodied in Napoleon, but when he crowned himself Emperor of France in May 1804, Beethoven was apparently so disgusted that he erased Napoleon's name from the title page with such force that he broke his pen. Some time later, when the work was published in 1806, Beethoven inscribed the title Sinfonia eroica, composta per festeggiare il sovvenire d'un grand'uomo (Heroic symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man). This great man might have been an ideal, non-existent hero, but more likely, it was the spirit of heroism itself that interested Beethoven. It has also been said that Beethoven was referring to the memory of Napoleon's once-dignified nature.

Beethoven wrote most of the symphony in late 1803 and completed it in early 1804. The first public performance was given in Vienna's Theater an der Wien on April 7, 1805 with the composer conducting.

Movements

The piece, like most symphonies, is in four movements:

  1. Allegro con brio
  2. Marcia funebre: Adagio assai
  3. Scherzo: Allegro vivace
  4. Finale: Allegro molto

Critical reception

The work is considered a milestone in the history of classical music for a number of reasons. In terms of sheer scale, the piece is about twice as long as any symphony that came before - the first movement alone is as long as the entirety of many Classical symphonies. The work also covers greater emotional ground than earlier works had - indeed, it is often considered to mark the beginning of the Romantic period in music. The second movement, in particular, displays a great range of emotion, from the misery of the main funeral march theme, to the relative solace of happier, major key episodes. The finale of the symphony shows a similar range, and is given an importance in the overall scheme which was virtually unheard of previously - whereas in earlier symphonies, the finale was a quick and breezy finishing off, here it is a lengthy set of variations and fugue on a theme Beethoven had originally written for his ballet music The Creatures of Prometheus.

Music critic J.W.N. Sullivan writes that the first movement is an expression of Beethoven's courage in confronting his deafness, the second, slow and dirgelike, depicting the overwhelming despair he felt, the third, the scherzo, an "indomitable uprising of creative energy" and the fourth an exuberant outpouring of creative energy.

Anecdote

A particularly sublime moment in the first movement occurs just before the recapitulation, when the solo horn enters with the main theme, in slight dissonance with the rest of the instruments, four measures before the "real" entrance. Beethoven's disciple Ferdinand Ries recounted:

"The first rehearsal of the symphony was terrible, but the hornist did in fact come in on cue. I was standing next to Beethoven and, believing that he had made a wrong entrance, I said, 'That damned hornist! Can't he count? It sounds frightfully wrong.' I believe I was in danger of getting my ears boxed. Beethoven did not forgive me for a long time."

External links

ko:베토벤 교향곡 제3번 ja:交響曲第3番 (ベートーヴェン)

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