Program Notes on Eroica

1665 Words Dec 25th, 2012 7 Pages
HLM 213
Program Notes
April 26, 2012
The Eroica Symphony Beethoven’s third symphony was first preformed privately in early August of 1804. One would think that the people of this time period would marvel over anything Beethoven composed. However, Eroica was not as well received or understood, as Beethoven would have liked. Many educated listeners were thrown off by the “false” horn entry halfway through the first movement. It is said that Beethoven’s pupil was surprised by this, and was reprimanded for saying that the “player had come in ‘wrongly’”(Green). Beethoven should have expected such response, though. He had been consciously planning to compose a work of art, a masterpiece of unequaled breadth. Three years before he
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Beethoven wanted rhythmic ambiguity within in Eroica. He did this by playing sforzandos on alternating beats, forcing the meter into a two-step rhythm (emphasis on beat 2, followed by an emphasis on beat 3 in the next measure). This is then followed by an emphasis on beat 3. Therein lies the ambiguity. This provides a sense of struggle.
A few seconds into the piece, Beethoven makes a move through D-natural coming to a rest on C#, which is far away from the tonic, Eb. After the music is found in C#, Beethoven continues to draw out uncertainty as the harmony begins to wander (Beethoven). The cellos then move to D-natural as the rest of the orchestra is still searching for tonic. The woodwinds and the strings resolve this tension as a gentle crescendo pushes the pieces back to Eb. This is a key feature of Eroica (Suchet). The second movement of Eroica is Marcia funebre: Adagio assai, where Beethoven takes a bold step by employing a funeral march (marcia funebre). Funeral marches are not commonly used within symphonies; rather, they are used throughout French revolutionary music of the period. The movement opens with a funeral procession in c-minor. This main theme forms the entire core of the movement, and will recur at various areas during its development (Ludwig van Beethoven). Beethoven presents the listener with a typical funeral march, nothing out of the ordinary. Until, after the trio. The procession theme does
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