Tuesday, November 2, 2010

11/2 Symphony No. 3 "Eroica", Pt 1 (Analysis, Järvi)

Kandinsky - "Around the Line"
It's been a long while since I did any analysis here...a whole month!  Well I'm going to remedy that by covering the Eroica for the next few days.  One of the highlights of my recent trip was seeing Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen perform Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, the Eroica.  It happens that Järvi and Co performed this in 2006 in Japan and the whole thing is on Youtube.  I annotated it based on sonata form structures and present it below....you'll notice that I don't use too much "poetic" language - I hate to do that because if I say this is "cannons firing" or "horses galloping" it limits what it might mean to someone else, and it can also be misleading concerning the intentions of the composer....I did let a few sentiments slip through though.....

Symphony 3 (Eroica) in E flat major, op.55, Movement I:

Part 1

Symphony 3, Movement 1 (Eb)
Theme 1 in Eb (I)
A - Triadic motif with dissonant C#
A1 - variation avoids dissonance
B - syncopation section
A2 - triad theme BIG
Theme 2 in Bb (V)
Pt 1 - Lyrical counter theme
Pt 2 - tuttis add drama
Pt 3 - Rhythmic variations leading to big descending scale
Theme 3 in Bb, led by winds
Supported by strings
Low strings add serious weight
Build up to Cadence section
Cadence in Bb
Pt 1 - heroic, march-like
Pt 2 - Hemiola syncopation
Pt 3 - Pairs of tuttis become single tuttis
Pt 4 - Theme 1 motifs re-emerge, leading to expo repeat

Expo Repeat

Pt 1 Instead of 2 big tuttis, we get hushed calm
Pt 2 - uses Theme 2 Pt 1 motifs
Pt 3 - Theme 1 triad becomes minor and repeats higher and higher
Pt 4 Theme 1 sequencing alternates with dramatic textures
Pt 5 Theme 2 Pt 1 again
Pt 6 - Fugal section using previous motifs
Pt 7 - Fugue explodes into dissonant chords crashing and burning ;)
Pt 8 - Theme 4 - "sadly assessing the battlefield"
Pt 9 - Theme 1 motifs varied
Pt 10 - Theme 4 again
Pt 11 Theme 1 returns...(continued)

Part 2

Development (continued) 0:00
Pt 11 - Theme 1 variations lead into 0:00
Pt 12 hushed harmonies, interrupted by early horn entrance 0:47

Recapitulation 1:06
Theme 1 in Eb, but minus the dissonant C# 1:06
A 1:06
A3 (no B section this time) 1:17
A2 1:40
Theme 2 (in Eb) 2:00
Pt 1 2:00
Pt 2 2:11
Pt 3 2:22
Theme 3 in Eb 2:41
low recitative section building to Cadence 2:56
Cadence 3:12
Pt 1 3:12
Pt 2 - Hemiolas 3:21
Pt 3 - pairs become singles 3:28
Pt 4 - triad motifs from Theme 1 3:39

Coda 4:02
Pt 1 - Theme 1 sequences 4:02
Pt 2 - Theme 1 motifs with fugue subject counter 4:16
Pt 3 - Theme 4 4:31
Pt 4 - Fugue subject resurfaces 4:46
Pt 5 - Theme 1 motifs 4:55
Pt 6 - Theme 1 with thickening texture 5:26
Pt 7 - Theme 2 Pt 2 6:11
Pt 8 - Syncopation leading to huge ending 6:20

(Analysed with the assistance of Robert Greenberg's Teaching Company Wordscore guide. I differed from his analysis here and there but the section breaks are pretty close to his)

Movement II tomorrow.


  1. Wonderful blog! Keep it like that, I'm very fond of Beethoven too and I love musical analysis.

    Mario Kraus

  2. Thanks! Glad you like the analysis - I never know what's more popular, analysis or life stories, so I try to balance it out. This month will have more analysis than last month...

  3. I like both analysis and life stories, always glad to know something about Beeth :) By the way, following your example I'm writing a daily blog about Mozart, who along with Beethoven is my favourite composer...


  4. Great - post a link to your Mozart blog here - I'll "tune in"...

  5. Here's the address: the blog is hosted by the forum www.musica-classica.it (It's in Italian).


  6. Many thanks for allowing me to post the link! :)


  7. Sadly I can't read Italian but I can enjoy the music videos - thanks!

  8. You're welcome! Some day I hope to have enough time to create an indipendent blog in English (but since it's not my native tongue that might be a bit difficult for me).


  9. Ed, thanks for the analysis of The Eroica. I have been waiting for this one!

    What will your next analysis be?

    Eventually, do you think you can do an analysis on the last two piano concertos?

  10. Hi Preston! - Symphony 4 next week and 5 the week after. I've been itching to break down the Grosse Fugue lately tho....
    I will definitely get around to the 4th & 5th Piano Concertos, I already have notes on them - maybe after the 5th Symphony I'll do the 4th Cto...

  11. Thanks Ed! Glad to see that you are going to do the 4th and 5th concertos. Take your time and do them whenever you feel ready.

  12. I'm looking forward to reading about the 4th concerto... Have a nice weekend!