On June 9, 1804, Ludwig van Beethoven and his pupil Ries assemble a group of musicians to give the first performance of his Third Symphony, 'Bonaparte', to his patron Prince Lobkowitz and ...
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On June 9, 1804, Ludwig van Beethoven and his pupil Ries assemble a group of musicians to give the first performance of his Third Symphony, 'Bonaparte', to his patron Prince Lobkowitz and his guests, including hypercritical Count Dietrichstein, in Vienna. The piece provokes political arguments among players and audience as to whether Bonaparte is a tyrant, or, as Beethoven believes, a liberator. The composer is also rejected by his former love, the recently widowed Josephine von Deym, though the visiting elder statesman of composers Haydn pays him a strange compliment. Leaving the gathering, Beethoven confesses to Ries that he is losing his hearing and later he reads that Bonaparte has declared himself the French emperor. As a result he will lose all respect for Napoleon and will change the symphony's title to 'Eroica'.Written by
don @ minifie-1
Beethoven's assistant was Ferdinand Ries, pronounced "Reese." The name was pronounced correctly in the film but incorrectly spelled "Reis" in the film credits. It was Ries himself who told the story of his incorrectly thinking the horn player came in early. See more »
Well, that would have made for a tough film to sit through, don't you think, guys?
Although it's true that that first read-through was probably pretty rough.
Here is a short quotation from Ries via Thayer, which shows how well the filmmakers did their homework:
"...Here it happened that Beethoven, who was directing (the Eroica) himself, in the second part of the first Allegro where the music is pursued for so many measures in half-notes against the beat, threw the orchestra off in such a way that a new beginning had to be made." In the first Allegro occurs a mischievous whim (bose Laune) of Beethoven's for the first horn; in the second part, several measures before the theme recurs in its entirety, Beethoven has the horn suggest it (the theme: LS) at a place where the two violins are still holding a second chord (the violins are suggesting a Bb7 chord -- the *dominant* of Eb Major, whereas the horn is playing the theme (a simple arpeggio) in Eb Major, a harmony which sounded quite "wrong" to 1803 ears!: LS). To one unfamiliar with the score this must always sound as if the horn player made a miscount and entered at the wrong place. At the first rehearsal of the symphony, __which was horrible__, but at which the horn player made his entry correctly, I stood beside Beethoven, and, thinking that a blunder had been made I said: 'Can't the damned hornist count" -- it sounds infamously false!' I think I came pretty close to receiving a box on the ear. (Much more dramatic to come *more* than "pretty close"!: LS) Beethoven did not forgive the slip for a long time."
Thayer goes on to describe yet another rehearsal which Lobkowitz arranged for another prince, Louis Ferdinand of Prussia:
"To give him (Louis Ferdinand: LS) a surprise, the new, and of course, to him utterly unknown symphony, was played to the Prince, who 'listened to it with tense attention which grew with every movement.' At the close he proved his admiration by requesting the favor of an immediate repetition; and, after an hour's pause, as his stay was too limited to admit of another concert, a second. (In other words, it was performed *three* times!: LS). The impression made by the music was general and its lofty contents were now recognized."
In any event, I adore this made-for-television gem! Two things that make this film great are:
1. We get to hear a period-instrument performance by one of the best such orchestras around!
2. We get to immerse ourselves in Beethoven's world for a few hours, all done very beautifully. (The scenes *following* the performance are delicious!) HIGHLY recommended.
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