Sean Rice, 2nd clarinetist of the NAC Orchestra, and Alexander Shelley, NAC Music Director, discuss Ludwig van Beethoven’s first three symphonies, putting them in context with Mozart’s and Haydn’s large volume of works. Why are Beethoven’s symphonies so significant and important? The 2018 Festival Focus is the perfect opportunity for this discussion.
The first symphony is deeply rooted in classical form, quite heavily influenced by Haydn’s teachings and Mozart’s works, with four movements mirroring the expected model and a few extra instruments. The chosen key structure is quite unique and signals Beethoven’s intention of veering off the standard course.
The second symphony, written in the spa town of Heilegenstadt, came at the cathartic moment when Beethoven was showing signs of losing his hearing.
The third symphony, “Eroica”, dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte, was an important statement about the common man. Beethoven composed from the last movement to the first, outlining the journey towards a celebration of humanity.
Sean and Alexander unravel some historic and musical stories within each of these symphonies, as we begin an exploration of the development of Beethoven through his nine symphonies.