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Eroica Funeral March Analysis Essay

"Beethoven's 3rd" redirects here. For the direct-to-video movie, see Beethoven's 3rd (film).

Symphony No. 3 in E♭ major
Sinfonia Eroica
by Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven's title page which shows his erasure of dedication of the work to Napoleon

CatalogueOp. 55
StyleClassical period
Composed1802 (1802)–1804
Performed7 April 1805 (1805-04-07): Vienna
MovementsFour

The Symphony No. 3 in E♭ major, Op. 55, (also Italian Sinfonia Eroica, Heroic Symphony) is a symphony in four movements by Ludwig van Beethoven. One of the composer's most celebrated works, the Eroica symphony is a large-scale composition that marked the beginning of Beethoven's creative middle-period.[1][2]

Composed mainly in 1803–1804, the work is grounded in the Classical symphonic tradition while also stretching boundaries of form, length, harmony, and perceived emotional content. It has therefore widely been considered an important landmark in the transition between the Classical period and the Romantic era.

Instrumentation[edit]

Symphony No. 3 is scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets in B♭, two bassoons, three horns (the 1st in E♭, C, and F; the 2nd in E♭ and C; and the 3rd in E♭), two trumpets in E♭ and C, timpani in E♭ and B♭ (in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th movements) and in C and G (in the 2nd movement), and strings.

Form[edit]

The work is in four movements:

Depending upon the conductor's style and observation of the exposition repeat in the first movement, the performance time is between 41 and 56 minutes.

I. Allegro con brio[edit]

The first movement, in 3
4 time, is in sonata form, with typical performances between 12 and 18 minutes long depending on interpretation and whether the exposition repeat is played. Unlike the longer introductions in Beethoven's first two symphonies, the movement opens with two large E♭ major chords, played by the whole orchestra, that establish the tonality of the movement.

The conductor Kenneth Woods has noted that the opening movement of Eroica has been inspired by and modeled on Mozart's Symphony No. 39, and shares many attributes of that earlier symphony which predates this one by a decade and a half.[3]

Exposition[edit]

Main theme of the first movement

The exposition begins with the cellos introducing the first theme. By the fifth bar of the melody (m. 7), a chromatic note (C♯) is introduced, thus introducing the harmonic tension of the work. The melody is finished by the first violins, with a syncopated series of Gs (which forms a tritone with C♯ of the cellos). The first theme is then played again by the various instruments.

The modulation to the dominant key of B♭ appears early (mm. 42–44).[4]:140 In the traditional analysis, this is followed by three (or in some views, two) transitional subjects that significantly expand the scale of the exposition – a lyrical downward motif (mm. 45–56), an upward scale motif (mm. 57–64), and a section beginning with rapid downward patterns in the violins (mm. 65–82).[a] This eventually leads to a lyrical second theme (m. 83) that arrives "unusually late."[6]:61 After this, the second half of the exposition eventually builds to a loud melody (m. 109) that draws upon the earlier downward motif (m. 113). The climactic moment of the exposition arrives when the music is interrupted by six consecutive sforzando chords (mm. 128–131). Later, and following the concluding chords of the exposition (mm. 144–148), the main theme returns in a brief codetta (m. 148) that transitions into the repeat / development.

An alternative analysis holds that the second theme begins earlier at m. 45 with the downward motif. In this view, the traditional harmonic progression of the exposition ends at m. 82, with the new lyrical theme at m. 83 beginning an extension. This pattern would be consistent with that found later in the development, in which the climactic moment leads to a new lyrical theme that launches an extended section. Moreover, the downward motif theme (m. 45) is developed significantly in the next section while the lyrical theme (m. 83) does not appear.[7]:97 Commenters have also observed that the sonata form and orchestration transitions would be fully preserved by cutting the second half of the exposition (m. 83–143).[4]:140 However, others have observed that form and orchestration would also fully preserved if the second and third transitional passages were cut instead (mm. 57–82),[5] consistent with the traditional analysis.

Development[edit]

The development section (m. 154),[b] like the rest of the movement, is characterized by harmonic and rhythmic tension from dissonant chords and long passages of syncopated rhythm. Following various thematic explorations and counterpoint, the music eventually breaks into a 32-bar passage (mm. 248–279) of sforzando chords including both 2-beat and 3-beat downward patterns, culminating in crashing dissonant forte chords (mm. 276–279). Commenters have stated that this "outburst of rage ... forms the kernel of the whole movement," and Beethoven reportedly got out in his beat when conducting the orchestra in Christmas 1804, forcing the confused players to stop and go back.[6]:64 & footnote

Rather than leading to the recapitulation at this point, a new theme in E minor is then introduced instead (mm. 284). This eventually leads to a near-doubling of the development's length, in like proportion to the exposition.[4]:140 The introduction of a new theme in the development broke with the classical tradition that the development section works only with previously existing thematic material.

At the end of the development, one horn famously appears to come in early with the main theme in E♭ (mm. 394–395), while the strings continue playing the dominant chord. In the 19th century, this was thought to be a mistake; some conductors assumed the horn notes were written in the tenor clef (B♭–D–B♭–F) while others altered the second violin harmony to G (chord of the tonic), an error that eventually appeared in an early printed version.[6]:66 & footnote However, Beethoven's secretary, Ferdinand Ries, shared this anecdote about that horn entrance:

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.[8]

Recapitulation and coda[edit]

The recapitulation section features a sudden excursion to F major early on[4]:141 before eventually returning to a more typical form. The movement concludes in a long coda that reintroduces the new theme first presented in the development section.

II. Marcia funebre – Adagio assai[edit]

The second movement is a funeral march in the ternary form (A–B–A) that is typical of 18th-century funeral marches,[9]:1071 albeit one that is "large and amply developed" and in which the principal theme has the functions of a refrain as in rondo form.[10]:70 Musically, the thematic solemnity of the second movement has lent itself for use as a funeral march, proper. The movement is between 14 and 18 minutes long.

The opening A-section in C minor begins with the march theme in the strings, then in the winds. A second theme (m. 17) in the relative major (E♭) quickly returns to minor tonality, and these materials are developed throughout the rest of the section.[6]:72 This eventually gives way to a brief B-section in C major (m. 69) "for what may be called the Trio of the March,"[6]:72 which Beethoven unusually calls attention to by marking "Maggiore" (major) in the score.

At this point, the traditional "bounds of ceremonial propriety" would normally indicate a da capo return to the A theme.[7]:106 However, the first theme in C minor (m. 105) begins modulating in the sixth bar (m. 110), leading to a fugue in F minor (m. 114) based on an inversion of the original second theme. The first theme reappears briefly in G minor in the strings (m. 154), followed by a stormy development passage ("a shocking fortissimo plunge").[10]:70[9]:1072 A full re-statement of the first theme in the original key then begins in the oboe (m. 173).

The coda (m. 209) begins with a marching motif in the strings that was earlier heard in the major section (at mm. 78, 100)[6]:72 and eventually ends with a final soft statement of the main theme (m. 238) that "crumbles into short phrases interspersed with silences."[10]:70

III. Allegro vivace[edit]

The third movement is a lively scherzo with trio in rapid 3
4 time. It is between 5 and 6 minutes long.

The theme first appears pianissimo in the dominant key of B♭ (mm. 7, 21), then piano in the secondary dominant key of F (m. 41), then a pianissimo restart in B♭ (m. 73), and finally a full fortissimo statement in the tonic key of E♭ (m. 93). Later, a downward arpeggio motif with sforzandos on the second beat is played twice in unison, first by the strings (mm. 115–119) and then by the full orchestra (mm. 123–127). This is followed by a syncopated motif characterized by descending fourths (m. 143), leading to the repeat.

The trio section features three horns, the first time this had appeared in the symphonic tradition.[10]:71 The scherzo is then repeated in shortened form,[6]:78 except that very notably the second occurrence of the downward unison motif is changed to duple time (mm. 381–384).[b] The movement ends with a coda (m. 423) – with Beethoven marking the word in the score which was unusual for him – that quickly builds from pianissimo to fortissimo, encapsulating the pattern of the whole movement.[10]:70

IV. Allegro molto[edit]

The fourth movement is a set of variations on a theme. It lasts between 10 and 14 minutes long. The theme was previously used by Beethoven in earlier compositions and arguably forms the basis for the first three movements of the symphony as well (see Thematic Origins below).

The theme of the fourth movement with its bass line

In the symphony proper, the thematic variations are structured like the piano variations of Opus 35: the bass line of the theme first appears and then is subjected to a series of strophic variations that lead to the full appearance of the theme proper. After a fugal treatment of the main theme the orchestra pauses on the dominant of the home key, and the theme is further developed in a new section marked Poco andante. The symphony ends with a presto coda which recalls the opening of the fourth movement and ends in a flurry of sforzandos.

History[edit]

Beethoven began composing the third symphony soon after Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 36 and completed the composition in early 1804. The first public performance of Symphony No. 3 was on 7 April 1805 in Vienna.[11]

Thematic origins[edit]

There is significant evidence that the Eroica, perhaps unlike Beethoven's other symphonies, was constructed back-to-front.[10]:75 The theme used in the fourth movement, including its bass line, originate from the seventh of Beethoven's 12 Contredanses for Orchestra, WoO 14,[12] and also from the Finale to his ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43, both of which were composed in the winter of 1800–1801.[10]:58 The next year, Beethoven used the same theme as the basis for his Variations and Fugue for Piano in E♭ Major, Op. 35, now commonly known as the Eroica Variations due to the theme's re-use in the symphony. It is the only theme that Beethoven used for so many separate works in his lifetime, and each use is in the same key of E♭ major.[10]:58

The "Wielhorsky Sketchbook," Beethoven's principal sketchbook for 1802, contains a two-page movement plan in E♭ major that directly follows the sketches for the Opus 35 Variations, which has been identified as being intended for the Third Symphony.[13][10]:59[c] While the movement plan gives no explicit indication regarding the finale, Lewis Lockwood argues that "there cannot be any doubt that Beethoven intended from the start" to use the same theme (and bass of the theme) that he had just fleshed out in the Opus 35 Variations. Thus, it is argued that Beethoven's initial conception for a complete symphony in E♭ – including its first three movements – emerged directly from the Op. 35 Variations.[10]:60

The first movement's main theme (mm. 2–6) has thus been traced back to the bass line theme of the Opus 35 variations (E♭, B♭↓, B♭↑, E♭) by way of intermediate versions found in one of Beethoven's sketchbooks.[13][10]:60–61 In the second movement, the combined tonality (melody and bass) of the Opus 35 theme's first four bars – E♭, B♭↓, B♭7(A♭)↑, E♭ – appears in slightly altered form as the funeral's march's second theme (E♭, B♭↓, A♭↑, E♮) (mvt. II, mm. 17–20), followed by two sudden forte B♭s that echo later elements of the theme. That same tonality then appears unaltered as the scherzo's main theme (mvt. III, mm. 93–100).[citation needed]

Thus, the first three movements can be viewed as symphonic-length "variations" on the Opus 35 theme, ultimately anticipating the theme's appearance in the fourth movement. Moreover, Beethoven's choice to begin the symphony with a theme adapted from the bass line is also paralleled in the fourth movement, in which the bass theme is heard as the first variation before the main theme ultimately appears.[citation needed] This again parallels the structure of the Opus 35 variations themselves. Finally, the loud E♭ chord that begins the Opus 35 variations themselves is moved here to the beginning of the first movement, in the form of the two chords that introduce the first movement.

Alternatively, the first movement's resemblance to the overture to the comic opera Bastien und Bastienne (1768), composed by twelve-year-old W. A. Mozart, has been noted.[6]:59–60[14] It was unlikely that Beethoven knew of that unpublished composition. A possible explanation is that Mozart and Beethoven each coincidentally heard and learned the theme from elsewhere.[15]

Dedication[edit]

Beethoven originally dedicated the third symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte, who he believed embodied the democratic and anti-monarchical ideals of the French Revolution. In autumn of 1804, Beethoven withdrew his dedication of the third symphony to Napoleon, lest it cost him the composer's fee paid him by a noble patron; so, Beethoven re-dedicated his third symphony to Prince Joseph Franz Maximilian Lobkowitz – nonetheless, despite such a bread-and-butter consideration, the politically idealistic Beethoven titled the work "Buonaparte".[16] Later, about the composer's response to Napoleon having proclaimed himself Emperor of the French (14 May 1804), Beethoven's secretary, Ferdinand Ries said that:

In writing this symphony, Beethoven had been thinking of Buonaparte, but Buonaparte while he was First Consul. At that time Beethoven had the highest esteem for him, and compared him to the greatest consuls of Ancient Rome. Not only I, but many of Beethoven's closer friends, saw this symphony on his table, beautifully copied in manuscript, with the word "Buonaparte" inscribed at the very top of the title-page and "Ludwig van Beethoven" at the very bottom ...

I was the first to tell him the news that Buonaparte had declared himself Emperor, whereupon he broke into a rage and exclaimed, "So he is no more than a common mortal! Now, too, he will tread under foot all the rights of Man, indulge only his ambition; now he will think himself superior to all men, become a tyrant!" Beethoven went to the table, seized the top of the title-page, tore it in half and threw it on the floor. The page had to be recopied, and it was only now that the symphony received the title Sinfonia eroica.[17]

An extant copy of the score bears two scratched-out, hand-written sub-titles; initially, the Italian phrase Intitolata Bonaparte ("Titled Bonaparte"), secondly, the German phrase Geschriben auf Bonaparte ("Written for Bonaparte"), four lines below the Italian sub-title. Three months after retracting his initial Napoleonic dedication of the symphony, Beethoven informed his music publisher that "The title of the symphony is really Bonaparte". In 1806, the score was published under the Italian title Sinfonia Eroica ... composta per festeggiare il sovvenire di un grande Uomo ("Heroic Symphony, Composed to celebrate the memory of a great man").[18]

Early performances and reviews[edit]

Composed from the autumn of 1803 until the spring of 1804, the earliest rehearsals and performances of the third symphony were private, and took place in the Vienna palace of Beethoven's noble patron, Prince Lobkowitz. An account record dated 9 June 1804, submitted by the prince's Kapellmeister Anton Wranitzky, shows that the prince hired twenty-two extra musicians (including the third horn required for the 'Eroica') for two rehearsals of the work.[19] The fee paid to Beethoven by Prince Lobkowitz would also have secured further private performances of the symphony that summer on his Bohemian estates, Eisenberg (Jezeří) and Raudnitz (Roudnice). The first public performance was on 7 April 1805, at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna; for which concert the announced (theoretical) key for the symphony was Dis (D♯ major, 9 sharps).[20]

Reviews of the work's public premiere (on 7 April 1805) were decidedly mixed. The concert also included the premiere of a Symphony in E♭ major by Anton Eberl (1765–1807) that received better reviews than Beethoven's symphony.[20] One correspondent describes the first reactions to the Eroica:

Musical connoisseurs and amateurs were divided into several parties. One group, Beethoven's very special friends, maintains that precisely this symphony is a masterpiece.... The other group utterly denies this work any artistic value ... [t]hrough strange modulations and violent transitions ... with abundant scratchings in the bass, with three horns and so forth, a true if not desirable originality can indeed be gained without much effort. *** The third, very small group stands in the middle; they admit that the symphony contains many beautiful qualities, but admit that the context often seems completely disjointed, and that the endless duration ... exhausts even connoisseurs, becoming unbearable to the mere amateur. To the public the symphony was too difficult, too long ... Beethoven, on the other hand, did not find the applause to be sufficiently outstanding.[21]

One reviewer at the premiere wrote that "this new work of B. has great and daring ideas, and ... great power in the way it is worked out; but the symphony would improve immeasurably [] if B. could bring himself to shorten it, and to bring more light, clarity, and unity to the whole."[22] Another said that the symphony was "for the most part so shrill and complicated that only those who worship the failings and merits of this composer with equal fire, which at times borders on the ridiculous, could find pleasure in it.[23] But a reviewer just two years later described the Eroica simply as "the greatest, most original, most artistic and, at the same time, most interesting of all symphonies."[24]

The finale in particular came in for criticism that it did not live up to the promise of the earlier movements. An early reviewer found that "[t]he finale has much value, which I am far from denying it; however, it cannot very well escape from the charge of great bizarrerie."[25] Another agreed that "[t]he finale pleased less, and that "the artist often wanted only to play games with the audience without taking its enjoyment into account simply in order to unloose a strange mood and, at the same time, to let his originality sparkle thereby.[26] An exhaustive review of the work in a leading music journal made an observation that may still be familiar to first-time listeners: "this finale is long, very long; contrived, very contrived; indeed, several of merits lie somewhat hidden. They presuppose a great deal if they are to be discovered and enjoyed, as they must be, in the very moment of their appearance, and not for the first time on paper afterwards."[27] A review of an 1827 performance in London wrote that this particular performance "most properly ended with the funeral march, omitting the other parts, which are entirely inconsistent with the avowed design of the composition.[28]

Manuscripts and editions[edit]

The original autograph manuscript does not survive. A copy of the score with Beethoven's handwritten notes and remarks, including the famous scratch-out of the dedication to Napoleon on the cover page, is housed in the library of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. A first published edition (1806) of Beethoven's Eroica is on display at the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague.[29]

Several modern scholarly editions have appeared in recent decades, including those edited by Jonathan Del Mar (published by Bärenreiter), Peter Hauschild (Breitkopf & Härtel), and Bathia Churgin (Henle).

Assessment[edit]

Significance[edit]

The work is a milestone work of classical-style composition; it is twice as long as the symphonies of Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – the first movement is almost as long as a typical Classical symphony (with repetition of the exposition). Thematically, it covers more emotional ground than Beethoven's earlier symphonies, and thus marks a key milestone in the transition between Classicism and Romanticism that would define Western art music in the early decades of the nineteenth century.

The second movement especially displays a great emotional range, from the misery of the funeral march theme, to the relative solace of happier, major-key episodes. The finale displays a similar emotional range, and is given a thematic importance then unheard of. In earlier symphonies, the finale was a quick and breezy conclusion; here, the finale is a lengthy set of variations and a fugue.[30]

Critical opinion[edit]

  • In the Treatise on Instrumentation and Orchestration (1844, 1855), Hector Berlioz discussed Beethoven's orchestral use and applications of the horn and of the oboe in this symphony.[31]
  • The critic J. W. N. Sullivan said that the first movement expresses Beethoven's courage in confronting deafness; the second movement, slow and dirge-like, communicates his despair; the third movement, the scherzo, is an "indomitable uprising of creative energy"; and the fourth movement is an exuberant outpouring of energy.[32]
  • In Metamorphosen, Study for 23 Solo Strings (1945), Richard Strauss presents themes similar to the funeral march of the Sinfonia Eroica; near the conclusion of the Metamorphoses, the bass quotes the funeral march proper from the Sinfonia Eroica. Academics speculate that Strauss's sub-title "In Memoriam" refers to Ludwig van Beethoven.[33]
  • In the recording Eroica (1953) and in the book The Infinite Variety of Music (1966), the conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein said that the first and second movements are "perhaps the greatest two movements in all symphonic music".[5][34]
  • In the article, "Beethoven's Cry of Freedom" (2003), the Marxist critic Gareth Jenkins said that in the Sinfonia Eroica "Beethoven was doing for music what Napoleon was doing for society – turning tradition upside down", and so embodied the "sense of human potential and freedom" that first appeared during the French Revolution.[35]
  • In 2016, the Eroica was named the greatest symphony of all time by BBC Music Magazine, in a survey of 151 conductors working across the world.[36]

Use as funeral music[edit]

Since the 19th century, the adagio assai second movement has been a common funeral march played at funerals, memorial services, and commemorations.

Cinema[edit]

In 2003, a Simon Cellan Jones-directed BBC/Opus Arte made-for-television film, Eroica, was released, with Ian Hart as Beethoven. The Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, performed the Eroica symphony in its entirety. The subject of the film is the private 1804 premiere of the work at the palace of Prince Lobkowitz (Jack Davenport). The film is based in part on Ferdinand Ries' recollections of the event.[43] In the film Beethoven does not learn that Napoleon has crowned himself Emperor of France until after the performance of the symphony is over – while having dinner with Ferdinand Ries. Rather than tearing up the title page of the symphony, he simply crumples it up.

A vinyl record of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 appears in Alfred Hitchcock's film Psycho. In the scene Lila Crane, sister of the protagonist Marion Crane, is searching the Bates house for Marion, and sees the record on a turntable. A closeup shot of the record label shows that the recording was made by the Symphonette Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Claudio Caselli.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^The Symphony, ed. Ralph Hill, Pelican Books (1949), p. 99.
  2. ^Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 Pastorale (Schott), ed. Max Unger, p. vi.
  3. ^Explore the Score – Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Opus 55, Sinfonica eroica, Kenneth Woods, 27 January 2016
  4. ^ abcdCooper, Barry, Beethoven (Oxford University Press 2008)
  5. ^ abcBernstein, Leonard, Eroica analysis (audio recording, 1956–57, to accompany 1953 Decca recordings), re-released by Deutsche Grammophon ("Original Masters" series) in 2005, Bernstein Eroica analysis 1/3 on YouTube
  6. ^ abcdefghiGrove, George, Beethoven and his Nine Symphonies (Novello and Co., 1896), available on IMSLP (visited May 21, 2017)
  7. ^ abSipe, Thomas, Beethoven: Eroica Symphony (Cambridge University Press 1998)
  8. ^Ries, Ferdinand; Franz Wegeler; Frederick Noonan (translator) (1987). Beethoven Remembered: The Biographical Notes of Franz Wegeler and Ferdinand Ries. Arlington, Virginia: Great Ocean Publishers. p. 69. ISBN 0-915556-15-4. 
  9. ^ abRoden, Timothy J.; Wright, Craig; and Simms, Bryan R., Anthology for Music in Western Civilization, Vol. 2 (Schirmer 2009)
  10. ^ abcdefghijklLockwood, Lewis, Beethoven's Symphonies – An Artistic Vision (W. W. Norton & Company, New York 2015)
  11. ^Beethoven, Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., London, 1930, p. 112
  12. ^Beethoven, Ludwig van Beethoven's Werke, Serie 2: Orchester-Werke, No. 17a, 12 Contretänze (Leipzig, Breitkopf & Härtel 1864), available on IMSLP (visited May 20, 2017
  13. ^ abFishman, Nathan (ed.), Kniga eskizov Beethovena za 1802–1803, 3 vols. (Moscow 1962). Citation based on unpaginated translation available at AllThingsBeethoven.com, "A translation of Nathan Fishman's analysis of the sketches for the Third Symphony contained in the Wielhorsky sketchbook" (visited May 20, 2017).
  14. ^Bastien et Bastienne (Media notes). Paul Derenne, Martha Angelici, André Monde, Gustave Cloëz orchestra. L'Anthologie Sonore. 1940. FA 801-806. 
  15. ^Gutman, Robert W., Mozart: A Cultural Biography, 1999, p. 242
  16. ^"Lobkowicz Family History". Lobkowicz Collections. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  17. ^Eroica, Napoleon Series.
  18. ^Dahlhaus, Carl. Ludwig van Beethoven, Approaches to his Music. Clarendon Press, 1991, pp. 23–25.
  19. ^Account record currently on display in the exhibition at the Lobkowicz Palace, Prague.
  20. ^ abGrove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 5th ed., 1954, Eric Blom, ed.
  21. ^Der Freymüthige vol. 3, Vienna, 17 April 1805 (17 April 1805): 332. Reprinted in translation in Senner, Wayne M.; Wallace, Robin, and Meredith, William, The Critical Reception of Beethoven's Compositions by His German Contemporaries, volume 2 (2001), p. 15, available at http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/unpresssamples/5 (visited May 21, 2017).
  22. ^Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, vol. 7, "Vienna, 9 April" (1 May 1805): 501–02, reprinted in translation in Senner et al. vol. 2, p. 17
  23. ^Berlinische musikalische Zeitung, vol. 1, "Miscellaneous News, Vienna, 2 May 1805" (1805): 174, reprinted in translation in Senner et al. vol. 2, p. 18
  24. ^Journal des Lulus und der Modern, vol. 23, "On Permanent Concerts in Leipzig during the Previous Semiannual Winter Season" (1807), reprinted in translation in Senner et al. vol. 2, pp. 35–36.
  25. ^Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, vol. 9, "News, Mannheim" (28 January 1807): 285–86, reprinted in translation in Senner et al. vol. 2, p. 19.
  26. ^Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, vol. 9, "News, Prague" (17 June 1807): 610, reprinted in translation in Senner et al. vol. 2, p. 34.
  27. ^Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, vol. 9, "Review" (18 February 1807): 321–33, reprinted in translation in Senner et al. Vol. 2, p. 30.
  28. ^The Harmonicon, vol. 5, pt. 1, p. 123, "Review of Royal Academic Concert on April 30, 1827" (1827), available on Google Books (visited May 21, 2017).
  29. ^This 1st ed. comprises 18 parts, and contains corrections made by Beethoven. Wien Kunst-u. Industrie-Comptoir, PN 512.
  30. ^Bernstein, Leonard, The Infinite Variety of Music, Hal Leonard Corporation, ISBN 978-1-57467-164-3
  31. ^Eroica SymphonyArchived 16 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine., Wiſdom Portal.
  32. ^Sullivan, J.W.N. (1936). Beethoven: His Spiritual Development. New York: Alfred A Knopf. pp. 135–36. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 
  33. ^Jackson, Timothy L. (1997). "The Metamorphosis of the Metamorphosen: New Analytical and Source-Critical Discoveries". In Bryan Gilliam. Richard Strauss: New Perspectives on the Composer and His Work. Duke University Press. pp. 193–242. ISBN 978-0-8223-2114-9. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  34. ^https://books.google.com/books?id=iUcyva1FEz4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Infinite+Variety+of+Music&hl=en&sa=X&ei=L2D2ToK4GJS3twfUmOjPBg&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Eroica&f=false
  35. ^Jenkins, Gareth. "Beethoven's Cry of Freedom", Socialist Worker (UK) 4 October 2003.
  36. ^Brown, Mark (August 4, 2016). "Beethoven's Eroica voted greatest symphony of all time". The Guardian. Retrieved September 29, 2017. 
  37. ^Wilfrid Blunt, On Wings of Song, a biography of Felix Mendelssohn, London 1974.
  38. ^Graham, Sheilah (1976). The Real F. Scott Fitzgerald: Thirty-Five Years Later. New York: Grosset & Dunlap. ISBN 0-448-11875-0. 
  39. ^American Heritage.
  40. ^Music and Arts.
  41. ^Bennett, Susan (2003). President Kennedy Has Been Shot: Experience the Moment-to-Moment Account of the Four Days that Changed America. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks Mediafusion. ISBN 1-4022-0158-3. 
  42. ^"Terror at the Games" by Daniel Johnson, The Wall Street Journal, 13 April 2012
  43. ^Eroica on IMDb

External links[edit]

The composer Ferdinand Ries (1784–1838) friend, pupil, and secretary to Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven, circa 1803, when he wrote this music
  1. ^Bernstein identifies three transitional subjects,[5] while Grove identifies two.[6]:60–61
  2. ^ abMeasure numbers in this article follow the traditional system, in which the measures of first endings are not counted.
  3. ^Lewis Lockwood credits Nathan Fishman as being the first to identify this movement plan as being intended for the Third Symphony.[10]:244 n. 15

Imagine if events hadn’t intervened, and Beethoven had stuck to his original plan, and his Third Symphony had been called the “Bonaparte”. Imagine the reams of interpretation and analysis that would have gone into aligning the piece with the Napoleonic project, its humanist ideals and its all-too-human historical realisation. Yet that is what Beethoven wanted the piece we know now as the Eroica symphony to be: this piece, during its composition and at its completion in 1804, and even when he was negotiating its publication, was a piece for and about Napoleon. Beethoven designed the piece as a memorial to the heroic achievements of a ruler who he hoped would go on to inspire Europe to a humanist, libertarian, egalitarian revolution. That’s why the piece, you could say, describes Napoleon’s heroic struggles (the huge first movement), then narrates the sorrow of his death in grand public style (the funeral march slow movement), and, with the open-air energy and teeming imagination of the scherzo and finale, demonstrates how his legacy and spirit were to have lived on in the world.

Instead, the story of how the piece’s original dedication to Bonaparte was defaced by Beethoven is the stuff of symphonic legend, based on Ferdinand Ries’s memory of what happened when he told the composer that Napoleon had styled himself Emperor in May 1804. With that Napoleon became, for Beethoven - as Ries reports the composer saying - “a tyrant”, who “will think himself superior to all men”. (In fact, it’s even more complicated than that, since Beethoven the apparently great revolutionary was also willing to change the symphony’s dedication in order not to jeopardise the fee due from a royal patron.) Yet that scrawling out of Napoleon’s name doesn’t change the specificity of Beethoven’s inspiration in writing this symphony, the longest and largest-scale he had ever been composed, and the profound human, philosophical, and political motivations behind the musical innovations of this jaw-dropping piece.

And it’s those novelties that usually inspire the panegyrics with which the Eroica is often described: the shattering dissonances and rhythmic dislocations of the first movement, the expressive grandeur and terror of the funeral march, the ludicrously challenging horn writing of the scherzo, the gigantic expressive range – from comic to tragic to lyrical to heroic – in the fourth movement, a set of variations that in one fell swoop reinvent the symphonic finale in a way that arguably only the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth comes close to.

And yet, these musical revolutions are not so - well, revolutionary as they might at first seem. In this piece as much as anything he composed, Beethoven didn’t want to compromise his music’s communicative power. For his music to sound its message of change, to inspire audiences to consider a new world-view just as they are also asked to participate in a new scale of symphonic drama, Beethoven needed to make sure he was taking his listeners with him. Which is why this vastly complex piece is also completely clear in its structure and in its extreme states of expressive character.

Think about the first movement: yes, its scale of thought and ambition are unprecedented when you consider the whole structure, but on the level of its themes and their working out, Beethoven’s music is built on simple, graspable ideas: those two E flat major thunderbolts with which the symphony opens (Beethoven’s initial thought was actually to start with a dissonance, as he had done at the start of his First Symphony), and the undulating arpeggio in the cellos that starts out so serenely but which soon introduces a foreign note, a C sharp, the grit in the oyster that signals this movement’s emotional and harmonic ambition. The most radical moments are shocking when heard in isolation, like the grinding harmonic clash at the centre of the movement which seems to bring the music to a shrieking, shuddering impasse; or the enormity of the movement’s coda, turned by Beethoven into another opportunity to develop and explore his themes rather than simply to tie the room together with a handful of clichéd closing gestures. And there’s also a moment that made Hector Berlioz – otherwise Ludwig van’s greatest admirer – splutter with indignation that “if that was really what Beethoven wanted … it must be admitted that this whim is an absurdity”; the passage when the horn seems to announce the return to the main theme a few bars early. It is what Beethoven “really wanted”, but Berlioz’s comments remind us just how weird it actually is.

Yet when you hear a performance such as Frans Brüggen’s with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, or Otto Klemperer’s with the Philharmonia (strange bedfellows, you might think – one a period instrument guru, the other a big-band maestro of the old-school - but both create a mighty, granite-hewn first movement) it’s not so much the individual moments that take your breath away, but the cumulative momentum that builds from the first bar to the last. That’s the real revolution in the first movement of the Eroica symphony, and the fact that this implacable musical force should have been inspired by the representation of a great man’s works only makes it more remarkable: this movement is the definitive symphonic alchemy of musical structure and poetic meaning.

As is the rest of the symphony. One thought to guide you through the next three movements from the funeral march to the explosion of joy in the final bars: this music is simultaneously rigorously symphonic yet novel in its cavalcade of dramatic and expressive characters. The achievement of the Eroica is not that Beethoven “unifies” all of this diversity, but rather that he creates and unleashes a symphonic energy in this piece that both frames and releases this elemental human drama. It’s that mysterious momentum that is the true “heroism” of this symphony, so that the victory at the very end of the piece doesn’t just stand for Napoleon, or Beethoven, but for the possibilities of the symphony itself, which is revealed as a carrier of new weight and meaning as never before in its history. What started out as a (pre-) memorial to a great man and his humanist ideals turns into an essential embodiment of symphonic life-force.

Five key recordings

Roger Norrington/London Classical Players: this performance still breathes the air and energy of a performance practice revolution in action.

Nikolaus Harnoncourt/Chamber Orchestra of Europe: less iconoclastic than Norrington’s period instruments, Harnoncourt’s recording still thrills with discovery, as he takes the lessons of the historically informed movement to the modern instruments of the COE players.

Otto Klemperer/Philharmonia Orchestra: an interpretation that locks you into a mighty symphonic momentum from the first chord to the final coda.

Frans Brüggen/Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century: period instruments maybe, but Brüggen’s performance has a gigantic structural and emotional power.

Arturo Toscanini/NBC Symphony Orchestra (1939): not just the uncompromising Toscanini of implacable energy, there’s a flexibility and lyricism here that makes the music flow as well as foment a symphonic revolution.

Mark Elder conducts Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony at the BBC Proms on 9 August with the Hallé Orchestra.

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