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Beethoven after NapoleonPolitical Romanticism in the Late Works$
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Stephen Rumph

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520238558

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520238558.001.0001

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Promethean History

Promethean History

(p.58) 3 Promethean History
Beethoven after Napoleon

Stephen Rumph

University of California Press

The touchstone for Beethoven's early ideology remains the Eroica Symphony, namesake and glory of the heroic style. Each generation, from Beethoven's age to the present, has wrung new meanings out of the Napoleonic dedication, the French Revolutionary march, and the “heroic” title. This chapter revolves around the political context of the Eroica, mapping literary ideas onto the surface of Beethoven's symphony, a facile and inconsequential game. Furthermore, it explores the artful way in which Beethoven ushers his rustic objet trouvé into the polite society of a symphonic finale and points out an idiosyncrasy in the finale theme. It the chapter also indicates that the harmonic process which began in the opening bars of the symphony reaches consummation in the finale recapitulation and takes the shape of a sonata-rondo. Finally, it explores the affinities between the Universalgeschichte and the Third Symphony.

Keywords:   Eroica, Beethoven, French Revolutionary march, Third Symphony, objet trouvé

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