I do tend to bang on about Wagner and Mahler in this column, but actually Beethoven was my first love, and every now and then I am reminded why.
This evening I watched Eroica, a fictional account of the first performance of Beethoven’s third symphony in the home of a nobleman in Vienna in 1804. From a distance of 200 years, bearing in mind the presence of Wagner and Mahler in between, it is easy to forget, or even be unaware, how truly revolutionary Beethoven’s music was at the time and still is.
The film, Eroica, captures this beautifully, and the reaction of some of the characters to Beethoven’s unconventional musical ‘novelties’, crescendi, discords etc, reminds me of the first time I heard the symphony performed at the Festival Hall in London. There was a young lady and an older man sitting in front of us – obviously a couple – and several times, during unexpected ‘discords’ or odd instrumental entries, she turned sharply to her companion as if to say, ‘that was a mistake, wasn’t it?’ But of course, it wasn’t a mistake; it was Beethoven, weaving his unique magic, as effective as ever, 200 years later.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs