Anneke Scott
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Napoleon and the musical world.


Kuhlau - Andante et Polacca
Beethoven - Sonata in F Op.17
Ries - Sonata in F Op.34

Beethoven - Variations and Fugue in Eb
Krufft - Sonata in E



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 Beethoven's 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 "Ludwig 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.".
Ferdinand Ries

In 1804 Ferdinand Ries, friend and biographer of Beethoven, and a pianist and composer in his own right, broke the news to Beethoven of Napoleon proclaiming himself Emperor of the French. Beethoven's violent reaction is often recounted, with him tearing off the title page of his fresh symphony dedicated Napoleon, declairing him a tyrant and rededicating the third symphony as "The Eroica".

In this programme we include works by Ries, Kuhlau (a composer forced to flee his home town of Hamburg by the invading French army) and Krufft (a composer who, under the auspicies of his "day job" as an Austrian civil-servant attended the Congress of Vienna in which the fate of post-Napoleonic France was to be determined) alongside Beethoven's magnificent Variations on a theme from the Eroica Symphony.