6. Eroica!

One of the dangers of hero worship is that your hero may not turn out to live up to your idealistic image of them, and that disillusionment can be a bitter thing.

Such was the case with Beethoven’s Third Symphony: it was, originally, to be entitled ‘Bonaparte’ in hommage to the, then, French First Consul, Napoleon; but, when said First Consul crowned himself Emperor, Beethoven is reported to have flown into a rage, saying…

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!

… and, as you can see above, violently scratched out the original dedication, replacing it with the title ‘Eroica’.

The symphony itself is revolutionary in so many ways – duration, architecture, harmony, key relationship… it also marks the beginning of the composer’s Middle Period:

00:00 1. Allegro con brio
18:30 2. Marcia funebre: Adagio assai in C minor
36:30 3. Scherzo: Allegro vivace
42:55 4. Finale: Allegro molto


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