An ode to Beethoven’s revolutionary masterpiece, his Third Symphony
In 1805, the world of music was startled by an avant-garde and explosive new work. Intellectually and emotionally, Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the “Eroica,” rudely broke the mold of the Viennese Classical symphony and revealed a powerful new expressiveness, both personal and societal. Even the whiff of actual political revolution was woven into the work-it was originally inscribed to Napoleon Bonaparte, a dangerous hero for a composer dependent on conservative royal patronage. With the first two stunning chords of the “Eroica,” classical music was transformed.
In Sinfonia Eroica, James Hamilton-Paterson reconstructs this great moment in Western culture, the shock of the music and the symphony’s long afterlife.