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Beethovenfest

Beethoven and more podcast #10: In memory of a great man

Ludwig van Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony was, for its time, revolutionary in breadth and scope and marked a turning point in the composer's style. It came at a time when Europe, too, was undergoing political change.

This image, supplied by Louisiana State Museum, shows Bonaparte Crossing the Alps by the Great Saint Bernard Pass, c. 1807 by Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse with Jacques-Louis David

The symphony had initially been dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, op. 55 (Eroica)

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra

Conductor: Jonathan Nott

MP3 recorded by Deutschlandfunk on October 3, 2010 in the Beethoven Hall, Bonn.

When Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself emperor in Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral in late 1804, Beethoven was in the process of composing his Third Symphony, in E-Flat Major. The composer had been a supporter of Napoleon and planned to dedicate the massive orchestral work to him. But, as the story goes, when Beethoven heard the news of the self-coronation, he was furious and scratched out the dedication.

Though the composer's admiration for Napoleon never completely dwindled, his great E-Flat Symphony was published with the title it is known under today: "Sinfonia Eroica - composed to celebrate the memory of a great man."

The symphony superseded all of Beethoven's previous orchestral works in length, complexity, form and virtuosity. As with most ground-breaking works, the Eroica Symphony was initially pelted with criticism upon its premiere in Vienna in 1805.

It is performed here by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra under the direction of their chief conductor, Jonathan Nott. Originally from the UK, Nott has directed the Bavarian orchestra since 2000, bringing it to both national and international acclaim.

Author: Kate Bowen (gsw)

Editor: Rick Fulker

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