Ludwig van Beethoven
Egmont, the hero in Goethe’s historical tragedy of 1778, was a Flemish general who bravely fought for the freedom of his people and was sentenced to death by their oppressor. In 1809 Vienna’s Burgtheater commissioned Beethoven to write music for the play. The output, an overture and nine pieces of incidental music, was premiered in June 1810. The overture, notwithstanding its tormented, ominous introduction in F minor, is a portrayal of courageous struggle culminating in a glorious vision, symbolized by the uplifting coda in F major. Its use of the famous four-note rhythmic motif from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 has been well noted. Beethoven’s exaltation of Egmont is a powerful statement of his aspiration for freedom and of the bright side of humanity.
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