Beethoven´S Third Symphony In E Flat

1919 words - 8 pages

Beethoven's third symphony in E Flat, written in 1804 is a vast work in terms of length for any orchestra to perform. Indeed it contains one of the longest first movements ever composed. [Simpson 1986: 19] With a first movement comprising of some seven hundred bars this was a symphony that redefined the genre and moved Beethoven firmly into his musicologicaly perceived 'middle' period due to the range of compositional techniques, expressive articulation and wealth of ideas. This work is bordering on the Romantic. The overriding structure is sonata form but Beethoven gives an almost equal amount of bars to every section, including a coda, a pattern which was and still is extremely rare. The forces of the symphony however are relatively modest, apart from the inclusion of a third horn, there is little difference instrumentally between this and other symphonic works of the period owing to some conductors to double instruments and even whole sections in order to present the piece with its 'expected' grandeur sound. [Del Mar 1992: 21].
One of the problems for a conductor working with Beethoven on such a large scale movement is the sense of space that transpires from the music. This problem is rectified somewhat by the tempo of the movement which is remarkably fast, some would say too fast, for a work of this size. [Simpson, 1986 20]. Two forte E flat major tutti chords announce the movement and establish the key before piano stings feed into the exposition which stars officially (according to the bar lines) in bar four. This is a very overt start to the performance and will require rehearsal as these chords need to be very precisely placed and perfectly in tune. The exposition endures for 155 bars whereupon 1st and 2nd time bars appear with a repeat (which Beethoven insisted upon performing) and a continuation respectively into the development section [Simpson 1986 21]. The development section is 224 bars long and concludes at bar 398 (letter 'M'). In the recapitulation Beethoven reintroduces both the first and second subjects but still explores different keys such as D flat major. The coda starts at bar 563 and is very extensive for the first movement of a symphony and this brings the first movement to a close in the home key of E Flat. Beethoven however still finds the time and space to insert one more theme into this last section before developing more of previous themes. The metre of the entire movements is is 3/4 throughout which suggests (especially at the time it was composed) a dance like quality to the music. This is corroborated by the performance directions Allegro Con Brio (“fast with spirit”) and the tempo of the work. This dance quality also comes across throughout the movement as Beethoven uses complex rhythm, accents and syncopation to obscure the distinctive sense of pulse.
The exposition contains two subjects. The first is comprised of the main motivic idea of the entire movement which is centred around an E flat major broken...

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