Did Beethoven's Revolutionary Eroica Symphony change the world?

September 30, 2010 :: Dr. Brian Black
Moderated by Tad Mitsui

Beethoven’s Third Symphony in Eb Major, the “Eroica” is one of the most influential works of the 19th century. It marked the beginning of the symphony as a new monumental art form, capable of a seriousness and depth of expression that was previously associated only with epic poetry. As far as Beethoven’s personal style is concerned, it also ushered in his “heroic” period of composition, the features of which have come to be accepted as the essence of the composer’s unique musical personality. Moreover, these features, which created the music’s great power, were in turn taken up as the guiding principles of symphonic writing by many later composers, continuing well into the twentieth century. The Symphony’s dynamism owes much to French revolutionary music and above all reflects the inspiration Beethoven drew from the figure of Napoleon Bonaparte, to whom the Symphony was to be dedicated. However, when Napoleon crowned himself Emperor, Beethoven tore out the dedication page in disgust and instead dedicated the Symphony to “the memory of a great man.”
This talk will look at the circumstances surrounding the composition of the Symphony and will show how its new musical style expresses many of the ideas and intellectual currents of the revolutionary era in European history. It will then explore the continuing relevance of Beethoven’s great achievement in today’s world.

Speaker: Brian Black Ph.D.

Brian Black is currently Associate Professor of Musicology at the University of Lethbridge. He studied piano first at McGill University under Charles Reiner, earning a Bachelor of Music in performance. He then studied in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under Brigitte Wild, one of Claudio Arrau’s first student and his assistant at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. Brian earned a Licentiate from the Guildhall School and an Associate Diploma from the Royal College of Music in London, before returning to Montreal, where he completed his Ph.D. in Musicology at McGill University.

Brian has performed in London and Montreal and has been heard on Radio Canada, the French arm of the CBC. His main research interest is the instrumental music of Schubert, on which he has given papers at meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Society for Music Theory. Brian has published articles in Durch die Brille, a publication of the Internationales Franz Schubert Institut in Vienna and Intersections, the Journal of the Canadian University Music Society.

Moderator: Tad Mitsui

Date: Thursday September 30, 2010
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Location: Lethbridge Public Library, Theatre Gallery, 810 – 5 Ave S
Cost: Free, donations gratefully accepted

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