Beethoven & the Horn An exploration of Ludwig van Beethoven, his creative genius, and his use of the horn in two major works. By Sarah Nietupski
Sonata for Horn & Piano Op. 17 Premiered on April 18, 1800 by Punto, horn, and Beethoven, piano. Beethoven at age 29. Written in less than three weeks for a large concert in Vienna.
Sonata for Horn & Piano Op. 17 Movement III In “Rondo” form – themes that repeat and can be broken into a systematic form such as “ABA.” “A” will be the first melody played by me. How many times do you hear “A” in this piece?
Answer: “A” comes back 4-5 times in pieces, but 3 times total – trick question! Rondo: ABACA
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Transitioned the world from the Classical to Romantic Era. One of the world’s most inventive and creative geniuses. First composition published around age 12. Early symphonies and works pushed the boundaries of the Classical Era.
Beethoven’s Hearing Loss Began to notice deafness around 1796. Ruined his social life. Made more public in 1802 through “Heiligenstadt Testament.” Used music to transcend painful emotions.
Symphony No. 3: Eroica Composed in 1803 and premiered in Vienna on April 7, 1805. Ground-breaking piece for Beethoven and the musical world as a whole. Originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte until he became the Emperor. Kicked off the beginning of a new age for Beethoven – his “Heroic” Period.
Movements of the Eroica Movement one: Introduces theme of hero. Movement two: “Marche Funebre” – Memory of Napoleon. Movement three: Post-mortem call of the hero through the hunting horn trio section. Movement four: “Motto” of the hero.
Outstanding Qualities of the Eroica New level of composition for Beethoven. Music of growth than transcends pain and finds heroism and triumph in life. One of the first symphonies to… Have extra-musical title (Eroica=Heroic) Have “forcefulness, expanded range and evident radical intent.” (Grove Dictionary) Include three horns instead of two.
The Horn in the 18th & 19th Centuries Evolved in Austria-Bohemia Regions (not France!) Popularity as a hunting horn spread, “regarded as an essential status symbol without which a nobleman’s court was not considered complete” (Fitzpatrick). But there is a catch…
The Hand Horn No valves! 1750-1830 (Death of Beethoven) 1750: First time the performer used his or her right hand to manipulate pitch. To this day, still a very virtuosic art. Both the Eroica & Sonata Op. 17 were originally played on hand horns.
Horns in Symphony No. 3 Used to thematically signify heroism in the piece. “Instrument of the mounted hunt…all embody the horn’s power to evoke the concepts of valor and of the out-of-doors; and what instrument could better call a picture of God marching into the world than the horn?” (Fitzpatrick) No better instrument to signify triumph or Beethoven himself than the call of the horns!
Third Movement: Scherzo & Trio Addition of three horns added force and dignity. “Call to the people awaiting a hero.” Ex. French Revolution + Napoleon’s destruction. Listening #1: Valved horns & modern instruments Listening #2: Hand horns & period instruments
Beethoven: A Creative Genius & Musical Hero Symphony No. 3 as a metaphor: French Revolution Beethoven as a man and hero, overcoming fate to pursue his creative genius. New life and growth manifests through triumph and heroism. Went on to compose six more phenomenal symphonies and hundreds of other works.
Thank you for listening! Special thanks to Dr. Colleen Conway, Kerwin Leader, Dr. Marty Marks, and Ann Konz for helping me make this happen! Questions or comments?“…only art it was that withheld me, ah it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had produced all that I felt called upon me to produce” – Beethoven, Heiligenstadt Testament, 1802.
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