OLLI-Beethoven Week 3

in America
Sonata Op. 27, no. 2
• Second movement:
– Minuet and trio
• Third movement
– Sonata form
– Fast, driving
– Completely opposite mood of first
Sonata Op. 27, no. 2
• “Moonlight”
• Sonata quasi una fantasia
• Unusual:
– Slow
– Dance
– Fast
• First movement:
– Contemplative, meditative, spiritual quality
Three Periods
• Early – 1792-1802
– Classical “imitation”
• Middle – 1802-1815
– “Heroic”
• Late – 1815-1827
– “Reflection”
Early Background
• Similarities to Mozart
– Father a court musician – at Bonn
– Displayed early talent on piano
• Differences:
– Father a drunkard
– Abusive childhood
– Had no chance to travel as Mozart did
Early Vienna Years
• Study with Haydn and others
• Reputation as pianist
• Cultivated aristocracy
– Refused to act part as servant
Changes in Vienna
• French Revolution
• No longer private orchestras – more
freelance situation
• Publishing more important – many
dilettante performers
1st Period Music
Focus on piano
Avoided big genres until 1800
Used classical models
– Heavier, more powerful
– More dynamic
– Strong contrasts
2nd Heroic Period
• Events
– Beethoven’s growing
awareness of his deafness
– French Revolution and
Music – many well-known works
• Symphonies 2-8
• 10 Piano Sonatas Op. 31 – Op. 90
– “Tempest”
– “Waldstein”
– Appassionata
• Five of his seven concerti written during
this time
• Five String quartets, Op. 59, 74, 95
• Opera – Fidelio
Musical Characteristics
• Expansiveness
• Greater intensity and instability throughout
– Expanded coda
– Climax moved to coda
Blurring of seams of the form
Bolder harmonies
Unity of work as a whole
Greater emotional power
Symphony No. 3, Eroica
Groundbreaking work
Beethoven moved beyond classicism
Huge, expansive
Originally connection to Napoleon
Beethoven changed his mind
Napoleonic Wars
• Vienna occupied,
• “If I as a general knew
as much about
strategy that I as a
composer know about
counterpoint, I’d show
you a thing or two.”
– Beethoven to a French
First movement
• Large sonata form
• Unusual features
– First theme – does not complete
– Many themes in exposition – no clear break
between first and second group
– New theme in development
– Recapitulation obscured
– Very large coda, contains climax
Symphony 3 Eroica 1st mvt.
Eroica ii Marcia funebre
Funeral march, mood important.
Apparent ABA, but with interruptions.
• A – alternates between two themes, two keys and two
• B section highly contrasting, in key and in motion.
Binary in itself – each section closing with a fanfare.
• Return deflected – music veers off in another direction.
Violence of interruption significant. Goes into elaborate
• Greater motion at return.
• This sets you up for the coda. Begins with viola intoning
C-Ab.. Tries to build up momentum, but never does.
Eroica iii, Scherzo
• Unusual proportions
After Introduction,
theme and 12 variations
plus coda.
Fourth movement:
Theme -- bass
Variation 1 – Eb
Variation 2 – Eb
Variation 3 – melody
Fugato – Cm
Further variation – melody D (via Bm)
March section –
Songlike varation – C
Second fugal passage E
Huge cadence – V
Theme – Eb – oboe – slow flowing
Theme Horn – powerful – climax
Eroica as a whole
• Main theme of i and iv related
– Themes different but outline same notes and
harmonies in scale
– Not true of middle movements
• What is it about?
Abstract concept of hero
Victory over death
Modernism – Beethoven becomes
a Classicist
• “For in both these composers (Bach and
Beethoven) the idea of law and order – of
obedience to the formative intellect and
regulative reason – greatly prevailed. They
relied supremely on the masculine powers of
formulation; . . . Theirs was essentially the
Germanic genius for the organization and
control of ideas. Hence the superiority of
Germany in the matter of symphonic structure
and classic form.”
– Colin McAlpin
• “Beethoven, despite all the sublime flights
in the works of his latest period, was
grounded throughout in classicism. He
never shook the formal foundations and
principles of classical music, or broke
them down. . . [They derided]
“superfluous attempts . . . to prove that
Beethoven’s last period belongs wholly to
– Guido Adler and Theodore Baker
Modernist view
• Music became non-referential
• [Music is] “a unified, closed, totality”
Milton Babbitt
• “We must not for a moment think that the
symphony is about these narratives, for it
is precisely the other way around; these
narratives are about the symphony.”
– Scott Burnham, Beethoven Hero, p. 25
Toscanini on the Eroica
• “Some say the Eroica is about Napoleon.
Some say Prometheus. I say it is about
Allegro con brio.
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