Freiburg Baroque Orchestra: Revolution!

Book tickets

Etiénne-Nicolas Méhul: Symphony No. 1 in G minor
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major "Eroica"

Freiburger Barockorchester
Gottfried von der Goltz, violin & conductor

The French Revolution was not only a social, political and societal caesura,
but also a musical one. The music of the Ancien Regime, with its opulent operas and
sumptuous suites, went out of fashion, and at times the musical life of France came to a complete
standstill. One of the few composers who managed to make a name for himself during and after the fall of the
monarchy was Etiénne-Nicolas Méhul, whose
revolutionary operas made him the most popular composer of the new social order. His
operas and symphonies are characterized by bold orchestration and the novel use
of leitmotifs. Even Ludwig van Beethoven was a great admirer of his French
colleague, as he himself reveals in his letters.
Beethoven himself was at first an ardent supporter of the French Revolution and later
even of Napoleon Bonaparte, to whom he dedicated his 3rd Symphony, which he initially christened
, "Bonaparte" Symphony. But when Napoleon proclaimed himself emperor,
Beethoven's admiration waned and, disappointed by the absolutist behavior of the potentate, he named
the symphony Eroica from then on. To this day, the Eroica is one of the most popular symphonies of all,
not least because of its catchy opening motif.
The two symphonies by Méhul and Beethoven are thus two works in which the revolution
and the political upheavals at the turn of the 18th to the 19th century are musically illustrated
and whose boldness still amazes us today.

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