Thursday, 6 November 2008

189. Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony no.3 "Eroica" (1803)


Title: Symphonies nos. 3 "Eroica" & 4
Performers: Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique
Director: John Eliot Gardiner
Year: 1993
Length: 46 minutes


Is this the best orchestral work by Beethoven? That is debatable. Is it his most significant work in historical terms? Undoubtedly. It is with this piece that most musical historians mark the beginning of the Romantic period, and one hearing of the Symphony is enough to tell you why.

This is very different from all that came before, Classical elements are almost absent, the Symphony is very long, the emotional content of it is unbridled. The first movement is explosive, the second both mournful and hopeful in turns, there is dissonance throughout.

It is hard to imagine what an audience listening to this at the time might have thought, but it was certainly a shock to the system. Unlike anything in scope or sound that came before, it shows a composer that has finally completely come onto his own. Beethoven creates his own distinct style here, moving away from his teachers and ancestors to something revolutionary and brilliant. Essential.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The second movement, a funeral march, is frequently performed on memorial occasions. Serge Koussevitzky performed it to commemorate the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Bruno Walter did the same for Arturo Toscanini. It was also performed at the funeral of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in 1847.

The second movement was also used as a funeral dirge during the memorial service following the "Munich massacre" terrorist attacks during the 1972 Summer Olympics. It was played by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.

Part 1 by Karajan:

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