Eroica, Symphony No. 3 in E Flat Major, Op. 55, 4th Mvt. - a Beethoven masterpiece! [HD]

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Ludwig van Beethoven
Czech National Symphony Orchestra
Public Domain

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Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major (Op. 55), also known as the Eroica (Italian for "heroic"), is a musical work marking the full arrival of the composer's "middle-period," a series of unprecedented large scale works of emotional depth and structural rigor.

The symphony is widely regarded as a mature expression of the classical style of the late eighteenth century that also exhibits defining features of the romantic style that would hold sway in the nineteenth century. The Third was begun immediately after the Second, completed in August 1804, and first performed 7 April 1805.
The piece consists of four movements:

Allegro con brio
Marcia funebre: Adagio assai in C minor
Scherzo: Allegro vivace
Finale: Allegro molto

The performance time is about 50 minutes.
Fourth movement

The fourth movement is a set of variations on a theme that Beethoven had used several times before. The theme first was used in the finale of his ballet music for The Creatures of Prometheus (1800), the seventh of 12 Contradanses, WoO 14 (1800--02) and later as a set of piano variations, Op. 35. The theme's subsequent use in this symphony has given the Op. 35 set the nickname "Eroica Variations". The variations here are structured in a similar manner to those Op. 35 in that the bass line of the theme makes the first appearance and is subjected to a series of strophic variations leading up to the full appearance of the theme itself.

According to Harold C. Schonberg, "Musical Vienna was divided on the merits of the Eroica. Some called it Beethoven's masterpiece. Others said that the work merely illustrated a striving for originality that did not come off." A Symphony in E-flat major by Anton Eberl (1765--1807) was premiered at the same concert, and it received rather more positive reviews than Beethoven's did.

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. Hector Berlioz discussed Beethoven's use of the horn and the oboe in his Treatise on Orchestration.

Writers on art from the Marxist tradition have commented on the Eroica. Gareth Jenkins wrote that "Beethoven was doing for music what Napoleon was doing for society—turning tradition upside down", and that the symphony embodied a "sense of human potential and freedom" first seen in the period of the French Revolution.

Richard Strauss's Metamorphosen has themes motivically similar to the Eroica funeral march, and near the end quotes the Eroica funeral march in the bass. Strauss wrote "in memoriam" in the score at this point, which scholars generally think refers to Beethoven.

In his analysis of the Eroica, released on a 1953 Book-Of-The Month Recording and published in his book The Infinite Variety of Music, Leonard Bernstein called the first two movements of the work "perhaps the greatest two movements in all symphonic music".

Text above is taken from Wikipedia, under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Music License: Public Domain
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Portrait used by permission of Beethoven-Haus, Bonn.
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