Beethoven’s grand Uomo: Heroic Identification and the Eroica Symphony Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Scott, Amanda Lynne
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Music
  • Today, the story of the conception of Ludwig van Beethoven's Eroica Symphony (1803) is closely entwined with Napoleon Bonaparte. However, this connection did not surface until approximately three decades after the Eroica was written. By the 1830s, critics were concerned with identifying the grand Uomo named on the title page of the first published edition of the orchestral parts, printed in 1806. Napoleon’s prominence in critical and biographical attempts at identifying the Hero of the Eroica was assured with the publication of Beethoven biographies, such as those by Ferdinand Ries and Anton Felix Schindler, that provided first-person accounts of Beethoven angrily changing the title of the symphony from "Bonaparte." Later interpretations of the symphony show these biographies' influence. A minority of writers disagreed with the Napoleonic interpretations; some, such as Richard Wagner, favored metaphysical interpretations that did not connect the symphony’s grand Uomo to any particular individual.
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  • Bonds, Mark Evan
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