September 13, 2018

In the run up to the Beethoven Festival at the National Arts Centre, Alexander Shelley spoke at length to create a podcast with Sean Rice (2nd clarinetist of the NAC orchestra) about Beethoven’s first three symphonies. The festival starts tomorrow, September 13th, and the opening concert will feature these three works.

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 they begin an exploration of the development of Beethoven through his nine symphonies.