Beethoven Writes His Third Symphony

Symphony No. 3 in flat E major, op.

55 represents a new stage in Beethoven’s, being one of the most discussed symphonies throughout time. The symphony was composed as a sign of great admiration for Napoleon Bonaparte, whose military and political ascension he had closely followed. When it was performed in first audition in 1804, at prince Lobkowitz’s court, it was dedicated to Napoleon. Before its editing in 1806, after Napoleon’s coronation, Beethoven renames the symphony "Eroica", composta per festiggiare il Souvenire di un grand’Uomo. (Composed to celebrate the memory of a great man).

The first public audition of the symphony takes place on April 7th 1805 in the concert hall of the Vienna Theatre, with the composer as conductor, and is received with a certain amount of skepticism and reserve by the critics of the time, taking into account the innovative spirit of the music, the distancing from the Viennese vision of the symphony and the Haydnian and Mozartian stylistic characteristics.

The idea for a heroic symphony had been suggested to him even before 1789 by general Bernadotte, but the first thematic drafts come into shape in the summer of 1803. The symphony was then finished in the spring of 1804.

In writing this symphony Beethoven had been thinking of Buonaparte, but Buonaparte while he was First Consul. At that time Beethoven had the highest esteem for him and compared him to the greatest consuls of ancient Rome. Not only I, but many of Beethoven's closer friends, saw this symphony on his table, beautifully copied in manuscript, with the word "Buonaparte" inscribed at the very top of the title-page and "Ludwig van Beethoven" at the very bottom. …I was the first to tell him the news that Buonaparte had declared himself Emperor, whereupon he broke into a rage and exclaimed, "So he is no more than a common mortal! Now, too, he will tread under foot all the rights of man, indulge only his ambition; now he will think himself superior to all men, become a tyrant!" Beethoven went to the table, seized the top of the title-page, tore it in half and threw it on the floor. The page had to be re-copied and it was only now that the symphony received the title "Sinfonia eroica."”

— Beethoven's assistant Ferdinand Ries

The Eroica, written in 1803, was the single most important work Beethoven had composed to date. It revolutionised not just the symphony, but music itself, moving it into a new century. It is like a novel in the form of notes. Years later Beethoven was asked which of his symphonies was his favourite: 'Eh! Eh! the Eroica.'

The Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (Op. 55) by Ludwig van Beethoven (known as the Eroica which is Italian for "heroic") is a musical work sometimes cited as marking the end of the Classical Era and the beginning of musical Romanticism.