This all-Beethoven concert includes Eroica, the defining feature of the Romantic era.
It marked the beginning of the composer’s grand “heroic” music.
The choir joins the orchestra for the cantata Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage.

November 7  2020

GRANT HARVILLE
MUSIC DIRECTOR & CONDUCTOR

ALL WORKS BY

LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

 

Overture to King Stephen
 

Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage

WITH THE
GREAT FALLS SYMPHONIC CHOIR
 

Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"

CONCERT SPONSORED BY
US BANK

Celebrating 250 Years
of Beethoven

Classical Music's Favorite
Romantic Revolutionary

We celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven with his Sinfonia Eroica, one of the composer’s most sensational works. Beethoven originally dedicated his third symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte, believing him to embody the democratic and anti-monarchical ideals of the French Revolution. First entitled “Bonaparte,” Beethoven later saw the man as yet another tyrant when Bonaparte declared himself emperor. In anger, Beethoven changed the title to Eroica.


Still, the vastly complex and radical piece portrays the ideals of freedom, the grandeur and terror of the funeral march after the death of “the tyrant,” and finally, the optimism of how the Revolution’s legacy and spirit were to have lived on. The fourth movement’s expressive palette ranges from comic to tragic to lyrical to heroic. It is a work with a message, a rugged sound, a musical revolution that accurately conveys the spirit of the times. Beethoven boldly swept aside existing musical conventions with a new form of music that opened many doors for future composers, just as the French Revolution opened the door to a new democratic society.

Beethoven’s Overture to King Stephen was commissioned by Emperor Francis I of Austria to celebrate the loyalty of Hungary to the Austrian Habsburg monarchy. King Stephen was the founder of the kingdom of Hungary in the year 1000. Beethoven incorporated Hungarian folk flavors in this brief overture that also foreshadows his Ninth Symphony, which he’d be working out a decade later. You might hear a hint of “Ode to Joy.”

 

Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage is based on a pair of poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, another visionary in his time. First performed in Vienna in 1815, it is a single movement in two sections. In the days before steam, a totally calm sea was cause for alarm; it is only when the wind at last rises that the ship can continue on its journey. The first section depicts a ship becalmed, the second its success in resuming its voyage.

PAM LEMELIN