Symphony No. 3 (Beethoven)

Symphony No. 3 (Beethoven)

The Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (Op. 55) by Ludwig van Beethoven (known as the "" which is Italian for "heroic") is a musical work sometimes cited as marking the end of the Classical Era and the beginning of musical Romanticism.


The symphony is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B flat, 2 bassoons, 3 horns in E flat and C, 2 trumpets in E flat and C, timpani and strings.


The piece is in four movements:

#"Allegro con brio"
#"Marcia funebre: Adagio assai"
#"Scherzo: Allegro vivace"
#"Finale: Allegro molto"

Performances run between 40 and 60 minutes, but typically around 50.fact|date=February 2008

In the first movement, Beethoven indicates that the exposition is to be repeated. This repeat, generally omitted in performances before the late 1950s, has often been observed in recent years.


Dedication and premiere

Beethoven had originally conceived of dedicating the symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte. The biographer Maynard Solomon relates that Beethoven admired the ideals of the French Revolution, and Napoleon as their embodiment. In the autumn the composer began to have second thoughts about that dedication. It would have deprived him of a fee that he would receive if he instead dedicated the symphony to Prince Franz Joseph Maximillian Lobkowiz. Nevertheless, he still considered giving the work the title of "Bonaparte".

When Napoleon was proclaimed Emperor of the French in May 1804, Beethoven became disgusted and went to the table where the completed score lay. He took hold of the title-page and scratched the name "Bonaparte" out so violently with a knife that he created a hole in the paper. [Steinberg, 12.] He later changed the title to "Sinfonia eroica, composta per festeggiare il sovvenire d'un grand'uomo" ("heroic symphony, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man"). His assistant Ferdinand Ries tells the story in his biography of Beethoven:

However, the road to titling of the work "Eroica" had further turns. After completing the work, Beethoven wrote to his publisher in the summer of 1804 that "The title of the symphony is really "Bonaparte"." The final title was not applied to the work until the parts were published in October, 1806. In fact, Schindler tells us that upon hearing of the French Emperor's death in Saint Helena in 1821, Beethoven proclaimed "I wrote the music for this sad event seventeen years ago" - referring to the Funeral March (second movement).

Beethoven wrote most of the symphony in late 1803 and completed it in early 1804. The symphony was premiered privately in summer 1804 in his patron Prince Lobkowitz's castle Eisenberg (Jezeri) in Bohemia. The first public performance was given in Vienna's Theater an der Wien on April 7 1805 with the composer conducting."'

Critical reception

The work is a milestone in the history of the classical symphony for a number of reasons. The piece is about twice as long as symphonies by Haydn or Mozart — the first movement alone is almost as long as many Classical symphonies. The work covers more emotional ground than earlier works had, and is often cited as the beginning of the Romantic period in music.Fact|date=February 2007 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 previouslyFact|date=February 2007 — 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 [ Eroica Symphony] , Wiſdom Portal.] 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.

Richard Strauss's mourning music Metamorphosen is based on the theme of the funeral march from the Eroica, and combines harmonically distorted variants of its main motifs. At the very end the opening bars of the funeral march are quoted literally in the bass.

Horn solo anecdote

In the first movement, the solo horn enters with the main theme four bars before the "real" recapitulation. Beethoven's disciple Ferdinand Ries recounted:cite book|last=Ries|first=Ferdinand|authorlink=Ferdinand Ries|coauthors=Franz Wegeler; Frederick Noonan, trans.
title=Beethoven Remembered: The Biographical Notes of Franz Wegeler and Ferdinand Ries
publisher=Great Ocean Publishers
location=Arlington, Va.

Use of second movement in funerals

* 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, [ [ American Heritage.] ] and Bruno Walter did the same for Arturo Toscanini. [ [ Music and Arts.] ] It was also performed at the funeral of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy in 1847 [Wilfrid Blunt, "On Wings of Song, a biography of Felix Mendelssohn", London 1974.] .
* 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.


last =George
first =Christopher T.
date =December 1998
contribution=The Eroica Riddle: Did Napoleon Remain Beethoven's "Hero?"
title=Beethoven: Letters, Journals and Conversations
periodical=Napoleonic Scholarship:The Journal of the International Napoleonic Society
id=ISBN 0837198992

External links

* [ Eroica website] from SF Symphony's 'Keeping Score' with Analysis, Background and Commentary by MTT (needs Flash).
* [ Program notes for the San Francisco Symphony (Ries anecdote)]
* [ Complete Eroica Discography]
* [ A site about Eroica.]
* [ Full Score] of Beethoven's Third Symphony.
* [ Program notes for the Philadelphia Orchestra] .

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