Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 -1827)
Overtures Vol. 2
Die Weihe des Hauses (The Consecration of the House),Op. 124
Zur Namensfeier (Name-Day Celebration), Op. 115
Leonora No.1, Op. 138
Leonora No.2, Op. 72
Konig Stephan (King Stephen), Op. 117
Musik zu einem Ritterballett (Music for a KnightlyBallet), WoO I
1. Marsch (March)
2. Deutscher Gesang (German Song)
3. Jagdlied -Deutscher Gesang (Hunting Song -GermanSong)
4. Romanze -Deutscher Gesang (Romance -German Song)
5. Kriegslied- Deutscher Gesang (War-Song -GermanSong)
6. Trinklied- Deutscher Gesang (Drinking-Song -GermanSong)
7. Deutscher Tanz (German Dance)
Trauermarsch (Funeral March) for Leonore Prohaska, WoO96/4
Triumphmarsch (Triumphal March) for Tarpeja, WoO 2a
Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn in 1770, thegrandson of Kapellmeister Ludwig van Beethoven, director of music at the courtof the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, and, less satisfactorily, son of a singerat the time in the service of the same patron, but later to be pensioned offfor drunkenness and consequent incompetence. The younger Beethoven, however, survivedthe vicissitudes of childhood to enter the Archbishop's service as a keyboard-playerand violist. In 1792 he moved, with his patron's encouragement, to Vienna,taking some lessons from Haydn and, more profitably he alleged, from otherteachers in the Imperial capital. In Vienna he established himself as a pianistand composer of great originality, attracting the active support of leadingaristocratic families. This patronage stood him in good stead with the earlyonset of deafness from the age of thirty , allowing him to continue his workprimarily as a composer. Deafness brought a measure of isolation and everincreasing eccentricities of behaviour, born with toleration by his admirersand supporters. His achievement, one of remarkable originality and power, wasto expand the classical forms and textures of his predecessors, suggesting newways forward, while providing music of a stature that his successors found itdifficult to equal. His death in 1827 was widely mourned both in Vienna andelsewhere.
Beethoven's connection with the theatre was limited. Hisonly opera, the
Singspiel Fidelio, with a libretto by Sonnleithnerbased on a French original,
Bouilly's Leonore ou L'amour conjugal, wasunfortunate in its timing. It was first performed in Vienna, at the Theater an derWien, on 20th November 1805, a week after the occupation of the city by Frenchtroops, with Napoleon now established at the palace of Schonbrunn, and theEmpress, in whose honour the work had been intended, now, with the rest of theImperial family, in temporary exile from the capital. The opera deals with therescue of a political prisoner,
Florestan, by his faithful wife Leonora, who disguisesherself as a boy, Fidelio, and takes service in the prison, able, in the nickof time, to save her husband.
There are four different overtures to Fidelio. Thefirst of these, later published as Opus 138, was discarded before thefirst performance, since Beethoven's friends found it too insubstantial for thedrama to come, a judgement that the composer accepted, providing a secondoverture, which was used at the three performances given in 1805; A thirdoverture, now the best known in concert repertoire, was devised for a revivalof the opera in revised form in 1806 and a fourth, known as the Fidelio overture,was written for a later revival of the opera in a further revision in 1814. Thepresent release contains the first and second Leonora overtures, eachwith a slow introduction followed by an Allegro, with the secondcontaining the more familiar material in its principal theme and off-stagefanfare announcing the arrival of the king's representative, who will put allfinally to rights.
The overture Die Weihe des Hauses (TheConsecration of the House) was written in 1822 for the opening of the JosephstadtTheatre in Vienna. The theatre-director Carl Friedrich Hensler, director alsoof the theatres in Pressburg (Bratislava) and Baden, had met Beethoven in thelatter resort, where the composer was on holiday in September. For the openingof the theatre Carl Meisl, Commissioner of the Royal Imperial Navy, had writtena paraphrase of August von Kotzebue's Ruinen van Athen, for whichBeethoven had written music when it had been used in 1812 for the opening ofthe theatre in Pesth. The new overture made Handelian use of a motif that hadoccurred to Beethoven during the course of a walk at Baden with Anton Schindlerand his nephew.
The overture and further incidental music for Kotzebue's KonigStephan,
Ungarns erster Wohlthater was written in 1811 andperformed at the opening of the Pesth Theatre in the following year, the workintended as a prologue in
honour of the legendary Hungarian king.
Beethoven's Namensfeier Overture was written in1814, completed, it seems, on the eve of the first day of the Wine-Month(October), the Emperor's name-day. In fact the overture celebrates rather morethan that imperial occasion, coming, as it did, at the end of the wars that hadseen the rise and fall of Napoleon. It was first performed on Christmas Day1815 at a concert for the Biirgerspitalfond, together with a setting ofGoethe's Die Meeresstille and the oratorio Christus am Olberg.
The music for the Ritterbal1ett, once attributedto Count Waldstein, was written in Bonn, where it was first performed on 6thMarch, Quinquagesima Sunday, 1791, in the Ridotto Room. The local nobility tookpart, dressed in traditional old German costume and celebrating the chiefinterests of earlier generations, described as war, hunting, love and drinking,elements faithfully reflected in the music, interspersed with a Deutsche Gesang.
Count Waldstein, who had collaborated with the dancing-master Habich inmounting this event, was much congratulated on its success. The music is aptfor its original purpose.
The Funeral March, familiar from the PianoSonata, Opus 26, was orchestrated for use in incidental music for Duncker'splay Leonore Prohaska, while the Triumphal March, first performedon 26th March 1813, was for the play Tarpeja by Christoph Kuffner.