Beethoven (1770-1827) began working on the first sketches for this Symphony No. 3 in the summer of 1802, and finished in the spring of 1804.
Dedicated to the music-loving nobleman Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz, it first premiered in private performances at Lobkowitz’s palace in Vienna during the second half of 1804.
The San Francisco Symphony played the work in March 1912 with Henry Hadley conducting. More recently, it was conducted by Herbert Blomstedt in February 2010. The orchestra consists of two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, three horns, two trumpets, timpani, and strings. Performance time: about 50 minutes.
Words of Wisdom for April 7, 2017
In writing this symphony Beethoven had been thinking of Buonaparte, but Buonaparte while he was First Consul. At that time Beethoven had the highest esteem for him and compared him to the greatest consuls of ancient Rome. Not only I, but many of Beethoven¹s closer friends, saw this symphony on his table, beautifully copied in manuscript, with the word “Buonaparte” inscribed at the very top of the title-page and “Luigi van Beethoven” at the very bottom. …
I was the first to tell him the news that Buonaparte had declared himself Emperor, whereupon he broke into a rage and exclaimed, “So he is no more than a common mortal! Now, too, he will tread under foot all the rights of man, indulge only his ambition; now he will think himself superior to all men, become a tyrant!” Beethoven went to the table, seized the top of the title-page, tore it in half and threw it on the floor. The page had to be re-copied and it was only now that the symphony received the title “Sinfonia eroica.”
— In recording his memories of Ludwig van Beethoven, Ferdinand Ries set in stone one of the enduring myths of nineteenth century cultural history: That in 1804 the composer angrily revoked his planned dedication to Napoleon Bonaparte of his Third (Eroica) Symphony when he learned that Napoleon had declared himself Emperor.