Herbert von Karajan conducts Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 "Eroica"

Berliner Philharmoniker

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Program notes

The great Beethoven specialist Herbert von Karajan leads the Berliner Philharmoniker in a once-in-a-lifetime interpretation of Beethoven’s beloved Symphony No. 3. A great admirer of the young French Republic's ideal of liberty at the turn of the 19th century, the composer initially dedicated what was called the “Bonaparte” Symphony to the diminutive French general. Unfortunately, Beethoven's anger and disappointment at learning that the liberator had turned into an authoritarian emperor—as Victor Hugo would put it, “the Napoleon was starting to show behind the Bonaparte” (i.e. the tyrant was beginning to show through the hero)—led him to re-baptize the symphony as the “Eroica” and dedicate it to his patron, the Prince Joseph Franz von Lobkowitz. The energy of Beethoven's heroic gesture is incarnated in a work that intrepidly breaks with its symphonic predecessors.

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