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Beethoven’s «Eroica»

Thematic Studies- Translated by Ernest Bernhardt-Kabisch

Constantin Floros

With this study the author «opened up a previously locked door of Beethoven research» (Martin Geck). The book presents conclusive answers to questions that had occupied critics for more than a century. It makes clear what exactly Beethoven and his contemporaries meant by the term «heroic». It proves that the «heroic-allegorical ballet» The Creatures of Prometheus is a key work for an understanding of the Eroica, and shows that Beethoven associated the First Consul of the French Republic, Napoleon Bonaparte, with the mythical figure of the Titan Prometheus. The book draws on interdisciplinary researches in the areas of Greek Mythology, Napoleonic History and Comparative Literature.

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Afterword

Extract

It gives me great joy that my book has animated a number of colleagues in Germany, Japan and the United States to engage in reflections and further re- searches of their own. My chapter on the genesis of the Eroica (ch. V) includes a detailed investigation of the earliest drafts in the so-called Moscow Sketch- book Wielhorski as well as of the drafts in the Eroica Sketchbook (formerly Berlin, Landsberg 6, now in Cracow). From the fact that in the Moscow Sketchbook the drafts for the first three movements of the Eroica directly fol- low upon the sketches for the Piano Variations op. 35 I was able to conclude that Beethoven must have conceived the plan to compose the Third in the sum- mer of 1802, while he was working on the Variations, and that he must have intended from the start to shape the Eroica Finale similarly to the Variations in both design and theme. I based this thesis on the fact that there are no drafts for the Eroica Finale in the Moscow Sketchbook. Beethoven must therefore, I rea- soned, have regarded the drafts for the Piano Variations as preliminary sketches for the Eroica Finale. In a lengthy essay, the American Beethoven scholar Lew- is Lockwood reviewed my thesis and confirmed its accuracy. In the process, he pursued my observations further and presented a careful transcription of the sketches on p. 44 of the Moscow Book.1 Among the most important results of my researches for this book is...

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