Eroica

Benjamin Ealovega

On Friday, March 27th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, our Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert re-broadcast from 2019 brings pianist Jonathan Biss to the stage, for a performance of Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, a work that transports the piano concerto into the realm of symphonic music. Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts.

Wikipedia Commons

It was the fall of 1802 when Ludwig van Beethoven confessed his nearly fatal despair about his growing deafness, in what’s now known as his "Heiligenstadt Testament." His music then took a daring new turn. WRTI’s Susan Lewis talks with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas about Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, "Eroica."

As Beethoven set about composing his Third Symphony, his hearing was failing and he felt certain his life was about to get worse. That it was born in a moment of despair may help explain why the finished work, for all its grandeur, is extremely odd — employing devices that are by turns aggressive and mundane, somber and practically danceable.