Symphony No. 3 : Work information

Composers
Ludwig van Beethoven ( Music, Images,)
Performed by
Northern Sinfonia Orchestra, Richard Hickox (Conductor)

This work

Work name
Symphony No. 3
Work number
Op. 55
Key
E flat
Genre
A
Composed
1803-01-01 02:00:00

This recording

Label
ASV
Producer
Roy Emerson
Engineer
Martin Haskell and Mike Clements
Recording date
n/a

The Composers

Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven is regarded as one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music, and certainly the most dominant of the 19th century. In taking the Viennese Classicism of Mozart and Haydn to its limits and developing his own intensely personal style, his output heralds the birth of musical romanticism.

Although Beethoven's personal life was often turbulent, he managed to produce some of the most sublime music ever written. Among his most profound works can be counted the nine symphonies, the Missa Solemnis, many of the piano sonatas, the late string quartets, the Piano Concerto No. 5, and his only opera, Fidelio. All enjoy a permanent and important place in the musical canon.

Born in 1770, the son of an obscure musician in the provincial town of Bonn, Beethoven received his early musical training from his father and other local musicians. His talents for composition and the piano were quickly recognised and nurtured by court organist, Christian Gottlob Neefe, for whom the young Beethoven deputised.

Sent to Vienna in 1792 to study with Haydn, Beethoven spent the next decade establishing an enviable reputation as a virtuoso pianist and composer. He published an increasing number of works and enjoyed the patronage of Prince Lichnowsky and the Esterházys among others.

His gradual loss of hearing, though, threatened the course of his career. Realising that his condition was both incurable and permanent, Beethoven shunned social occasions to avoid revealing his potentially damaging secret. By 1818 he was virtually deaf and had to use conversation books to communicate.

Upon learning of his deafness, Beethoven suffered a period of fluctuating moods, powerfully voicing his despair in an 1802 letter to his brothers, the 'Heiligenstadt testament'. Managing to pull himself out of his malaise, Beethoven threw himself into the work that was now spreading his fame all over Europe.  

With financial stability finally achieved through the patronage of Beethoven's supporters, Archduke Rudolph, Prince Lobkowitz and Prince Kinsky, Beethoven's professional life reached a peak. His personal life, in contrast, was still in turmoil.

In 1812 he wrote a passionate love-letter to an unknown 'immortal beloved', now thought to be Antoine Brentano, a married and, hence, unavailable woman. This was the culmination of a series of unrequited or doomed love affairs and marked a turning point in the composer's life.

From this point on, Beethoven seems to have accepted the impossibility of marriage and, after a long period of diminished creativity, decided to dedicate his energies to composition. His recovery began in 1817 with the Hammerklavier sonata and continued with the Missa Solemnis, but further conflict with his sister-in-law over custody of his nephew, Karl, kept his personal life turbulent.

After the monumental Ninth Symphony of 1823-4, Beethoven dedicated his last years to the string quartet, though illness began to increasingly disrupt his compositional activities. Beethoven's relationship with his nephew also deteriorated and Karl's attempted suicide in August 1826 shattered the ailing composer. In late 1826 he developed jaundice and, after a lengthy illness, died on 26 March 1827; an estimated 10,000 people attended the funeral three days later.

Beethoven's influence, as both a composer and romantic artist, has proved enormous. His compelling private life and wonderful music ensured that his perceived 'heroic' struggle over personal obstacles became the idealised view of the composer in the romantic era. Similarly, there can be few composers born since that have escaped the shadow of his immense creativity and musicianship. He stands above virtually all others as one of  the most admired composers of all time.

Related Composers: Schubert, Mendelssohn, Weber

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata op.2 no.1: 1 Mov. (2'32'')

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata op.2 no.1: 2 Mov. (5'21'')

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata op.2 no.1: 3 Mov. (2'21'')

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata op.2 no.1: 4 Mov. (4'25'')

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata op.2 no.2: 1 Mov. (4'52'')

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata op.2 no.2: 2 Mov. (4'40'')

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata op.2 no.2: 3 Mov. (2'46'')

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata op.2 no.2: 4 Mov. (5'50'')

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata op.2 no.3: 1 Mov. (7'02'')

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata op.2 no.3: 2 Mov. (7'05'')

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata op.2 no.3: 3 Mov. (3'20'')

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata op.2 no.3: 4 Mov. (4'30'')

- MIDI FILE - from 5th Piano Concerto: Allegro (18'50'')

- MIDI FILE - from "Moonlight Sonata" op.27 n.2: 1th mov. (5'47'')

- MIDI FILE - Piano Sonata "Waldstein" (complete) (21'52'')

Track listing

  • Allegro con brio 19:42 min
  • Marcia Funebre: Adagio assai 17:47 min
  • Scherzo: Allegro vivace 6:02 min
  • Finale: Allegro molto - Poco andante - Presto 13:20 min

Notes

The masterpiece known as the Eroica Symphony was sketched while Beethoven was staying at Oberdobling in 1803. Unlike many of his works, the principal ideas were in place early on in the composition process, and progress was swift. The work was originally entitled Bonaparte in honour of France's First Consul, Napoleon Bonaparte, whose revolutionary ideals Beethoven identified with. However, when Napoleon declared himself Emperor, Beethoven tore up the title page in disgust. At point of publication in 1806 the work was renamed Eroica, 'composed to celebrate the memory of a great man'.

In perfect accordance with the revolutionary upheavals in France, Beethoven's new symphony rocked the musical establishment. The sheer breadth of musical expression found in the mammoth first movement is still striking today; it's impact at the time must have been astonishing.

Each movement has remarkable characteristics; from the novel structure of the finale to the disintegration of the funeral march's final bars, this is ground-breaking music. Listen in the first movement as the tension is wound to breaking point and discordant hammer blows ring out in the Horns. The finale's theme, used for a series of variations, had previously been used by Beethoven in three earlier works; it surely receives its greatest treatment in this masterful movement, crowning a great symphony.