Beethoven’s Third Symphony

Concert 24.1

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Beethoven’s Third Symphony

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica, revolutionized the entire world of classical music. Rumon Gamba leads NorrlandsOperan’s Symphony Orchestra in a concert that offers both heroism and folksiness.

For many, Ludwig van Beethoven is the very symbol of the freedom of the artist. The primary purpose of his music was not to please the listener, but to serve as an outlet for his own creativity. In his youth, Beethoven was strongly influenced by the French revolution, and dedicated his third symphony to Napoleon. Hearing that Napoleon had appointed himself emperor, however, he became so angry that he ripped up the composition's title page and rewrote its dedication to read: "Composed to celebrate the memory of a great man".

With his Eroica symphony, Beethoven broke every rule in the book. The music is wide-ranging and more dramatic, rhythmic, dynamic and emotional than that of any symphony that came before. In this piece, Beethoven also made a definite break with the traditions established by Haydn and Mozart.

Icelandic composer Jón Leifs (1899–1968) was also a man who went his own way. He did not want to be influenced by any tradition or composer. In his music, Leifs portrays Iceland's unique landscape, the history of its people and its struggle for independence. His works often had their basis in Icelandic folk music.

Folk music also greatly inspired Hungarian composer Béla Bartók (1881–1945). The soloist in his third piano concerto is Iceland's Víkingur Ólafsson, who is said to be uniquely able to render his audience spellbound.

Jón Leifs: Folkdanser för orkester
Béla Bartók: Pianokonsert nr 3
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symfoni nr 3, Eroica

Conductor: Rumon Gamba
Soloist: Víkingur Ólafsson (piano)

Follow-up discussion: directly after the concert