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Beethoven Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major. Op.

55 (Eroica)

I. Allegro con brio

II. Marcia funebre. Adagio assai
III. Scherzo-Allegro vivace
IV. Finale-Allegro molto

The name symphony refers to a specific a delineated musical form that was first codified by Haydn, also
known as the father of the symphony and later perfected by Mozart. Beethoven inherits the Symphony
in it’s classical form. His first two Symphonies firmly establish him as the torch bearer in the important
legacy of the Symphony’s development and journey.

Considering the snapshot into Beethoven’s life with his own personal struggle with adversity, his
deafness and desire to overcome it together with a Europe that was in finding itself in a period of
turmoil and revolution, the third symphony marks the beginning of a deep revolution within
Beethoven… one that would take him on a journey and allow him to innovate and become the figure
head and leader that brings the entire cultural world to the transition into the Romantic period.

His own sturm un drang is refelceted deeply in his music…

All Symphonies: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven Brahms Mahler

Characteristics firmly established in the Symphony:

Comprised of four movements following a general pattern of I. Fast, II. Slow, III. Dance, IV. Fast.
This was later more formally codified both by form and key.

The first movement is written in the sonata form (ternary) in the tonic key.
Each sonata is based on a three part form:
written in the tonic key where the first theme is introduced.
It is accompanied by a second contrasting theme written in the key’s dominant.
These two themes are developed parting from the dominant key.
The themes return back to the tonic key and are restated.

I. Allegro con Brio

The movement begins with two, E♭major chords (m 1-2) (0:00)

Theme 1
First introduced by the cellos in m. 3 (0:04) in the tonic key of E-flat major. This is known as the heroic
theme. E-flat often being associated with that which is noble and heroic.

Transition/Theme 2
The 2nd theme is written in the contrasting and softer in character in line with the strict rules of sonata

My desire for you is to follow the heroic theme and it’s counterpart second theme throughout the
symphony in its three sections:
Exposition, Development, and try to identify when is the actual Recapitulation.

If you can do this, then you are already way ahead of the game from the average listener today.
That being said though , the majority of the listeners at that time were well versed in all that I am
writing here and not only, it was taken for granted that most people had studied music at a deep
enough level to sophisticatedly follow a symphony.

If you need a little help the first time through…. (try min. 9:13). (only because I like you…)

II. Marcia funebre. Adagio assai

I will leave the brilliant Leonard Bernstein to explicate on this magnificent and famous talk on
Beethoven’s symphony’s second movement.

Also in ternary form (A-B-A). Divided by an elegant Trio. Listen to one of the most eloquent men speak
on Beethoven.
III. Scherzo-Allegro vivace

Beethoven’s funeral music gives way to a brilliant (though often very quiet) scherzo, just as the prisoners
in Fidelio emerge from the dungeon into the blinding daylight. Prior to this symphony, it was custom to
prefer the minuet, a more noble dance. Still using the ternary, form A-B-A which is built to delineate
contrast. Now Beethoven decides to modernize the dance… (his desire to innovate and take a new path!)
instead of using the noble minuet, he choses the popular dance at the time known as the scherzo. It is a
symbolic and conscious change. He wanted to show the evolution in society reflected in the art form.
And I believe it is safe to say that the third movement of the symphony would never be the same again.


IV. Finale-Allegro molto

Beethoven’s finale is a set of variations on a theme which is yet another important musical form from the
classical period. Papa Haydn was very fond of this musical form and it was greatly adapted also mby
Mozart. Beethoven had used several times before, principally in his ballet The Creatures of Prometheus.
This is an unusually complex and multifaceted piece of music. It is not just the conclusion, but the
culmination, of all that came before.

Beethoven begins with a simple, unattached bass line before introducing the theme itself. The variety and
range of style are extraordinary: a fugue on the bass line, a virtuoso showpiece for flute, a swinging
dance in G minor, an expansive hymn.

Beethoven moves from one event to the next, making their connections seem not only obvious, but
inevitable. Some of it is splendid solemnity, some high humor, and Beethoven touches on much in
between. A magnificent coda, which continues to stake out new territory even while wrapping things up,
ends with bursts of joy from the horns.

Tonight if we arrive early for 7:00 there is a brief guide to listening to the concert tonight. I highly
recommend it 