Chapter

Promethean History

Stephen Rumph

in Beethoven after Napoleon

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238558
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930124 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520238558.003.0004
Promethean History

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The touchstone for Beethoven's early ideology remains the Eroica Symphony, namesake and glory of the heroic style. Each generation, from Beethoven's age to the present, has wrung new meanings out of the Napoleonic dedication, the French Revolutionary march, and the “heroic” title. This chapter revolves around the political context of the Eroica, mapping literary ideas onto the surface of Beethoven's symphony, a facile and inconsequential game. Furthermore, it explores the artful way in which Beethoven ushers his rustic objet trouvé into the polite society of a symphonic finale and points out an idiosyncrasy in the finale theme. It the chapter also indicates that the harmonic process which began in the opening bars of the symphony reaches consummation in the finale recapitulation and takes the shape of a sonata-rondo. Finally, it explores the affinities between the Universalgeschichte and the Third Symphony.

Keywords: Eroica; Beethoven; French Revolutionary march; Third Symphony; objet trouvé

Chapter.  13538 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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