May 17

American Classical Orchestra Presents Eroica

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All-Beethoven Program

Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

Coriolan Overture



We read that Ludwig van Beethoven was a champion for human rights, a musical genius who cared about civic unrest of the day, the French Revolution. Napoleon was the young composer’s hero of the people. Decades-long conflicts in the streets had become a way of life in early 19th century Vienna. Ever-present troops marching, civil unrest, uprisings, and revolution exerted an impact on Beethoven’s formative years. 


Beethoven’s Third Symphony, “Eroica”, arguably his greatest work, is an overtly political statement. Through the music, the composer sought to pay musical homage to Napoleon’s triumph in freeing the human spirit. The result is an epic symphony unlike any other music before or since. The opening movement, with its famous melody, acts as a rallying call. The devastating funeral march follows.  In this movement, Beethoven breaks away from all compositional norms that he had derived from his predecessors Mozart and Haydn. The music is at times serene, violent, comforting, and frightening. The Eroica Funeral March represents the greatest break from tradition in music history. The ACO rendition on period instruments gives a listener opportunity to hear this piece with its military trumpets and drums, its openly resonant gut strings, and profound dynamic contrasts from softest flute to blazing brass. 


The ingenious finale offers a set of fabulous variations on a theme. It presents as a clever ploy by Beethoven, who after all is writing hero music, not compositional variation exercises. He chooses a simple symmetrical theme to demonstrate his mastery of variation. And when it comes time for the triumphal emancipation of the common man, with thrilling brass fanfare evoking troops marching in step with the entire assembly, we realize that we have been transported from the simple to the sublime. The finale of the Eroica Symphony is among the most transformational moments in music history. 


Napoleon, like all leaders turned despot, betrayed his supporters. He was eventually defeated and relegated to tyrant in history books. When Beethoven learned that the French leader of the common man had crowned himself emperor, he famously crossed out his dedication to Napoleon on the cover page of his Eroica score. Still, in this 1803 symphonic masterpiece, Beethoven found permanent voice for capturing the noble and heroic in the human spirit.


Concert Preview


Before each Alice Tully Hall performance, Maestro Thomas Crawford will deliver a lively Concert Preview with the full orchestra onstage. Crawford’s engaging narratives, along with excerpts performed by the musicians, give audiences greater insight into the music they are about to hear. Concert previews are free to all ticket holders and begin at 8pm.

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From $35


May 2019

Fri, May 17

8:00 pm $35 – $95

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