Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Emperor's Concerto

Rob and I will have last seen Beethoven's 5th performed in 2009 by pianist Andre Laplante. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night, when we will see Anton Kuerti perform The Emperor's Concerto.  I purchased tickets with the promise we would have a good view of the pianist.

Opus 67 had a long gestation.  The first phrases were pencilled in 1804 and it was presented in 1808, when Beethoven was 38.  His "middle period" is also sometimes known as his "heroic" period, because of the dramatic nature of many of the compositions.

original score from Wikimedia Commons
The premier was not a success.  The 5th was performed after just one rehearsal.  A musician's made such a glaring mistake during the choral fantasy that the orchestra actually stopped and started over.  The auditorium was freezing cold and many in the audience left before the show was even completed.  Performed again eighteen months later, the 5th concerto received justifiable acclaim as an "indescribably profound and magnificent".  It is now one of the most loved and best known classical works.

Beethoven didn't come up with the name 'Emperor's Concerto'.  In fact, he detested the nobility because the Imperial Theatre ignored his petition to become its permanent composer in 1807.  Not only did they reject his proposal, they didn't even write back to acknowledge receipt.  Who knows, maybe the insult spurred him to complete this masterpiece.

Beethoven's hearing loss began in his early twenties, and by the time he wrote this concerto it was pronounced, but he was still able to hear.  Seventeen years later he would perform his Ninth Symphony (Opus 125), with his back was to the audience, and not be able to hear their applause.

the second movement, Adagio un poco mosso


1 comment:

Peter said...

This was very interesting. I would hate to be the person that made the mistake at the premiere.