Recorded on 07/08/2000, uploaded on 05/21/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Ludwig van Beethoven's Emperor Concerto was his fifth
and final concerto for the piano and remains today one of the finest concertos
ever written. The name "Emperor" was not given to the concerto by
Beethoven. In fact, knowing Beethoven's blatant disregard for nobility, it is
unlikely he would have named it such. The title "Emperor" was actually
given to the piece by Johann Baptist Cramer, the first English publisher of the
work and a friend of Beethoven's. It was written in Vienna between 1809 and
1811 and dedicated to the Archduke Rudolph, Beethoven's pupil and patron. It
comes from what is known as Beethoven's "heroic" decade-a period that saw the
composition of the Eroica, Fifth and
SixthSymphony, the Appassionata and Waldstein sonatas and the Archduke piano trio, just to name
a few. It was during this first decade of the 19th century that Beethoven wrote
his many of his well-known compositions laying the groundwork for the coming
Romantic period, and the Fifth Piano Concerto was one such work.
The concerto is in the key of E flat major, which was always Beethoven's key of
choice for grand, noble gestures. Both the Eroica Symphony and the
String Quartet no. 12 share the same key as the concerto. Also, like both those
works, the concerto opens with dramatic statements of the tonic chord. From
there, however, Beethoven breaks from the concerto tradition of his day and
introduces the piano through means of a cadenza. It is only after the piano's
introduction that the orchestra announces the principal theme of the movement.
The outward simplicity of this movement hides its subtle complexities. While
the main themes of the movement may seem to be constructed out of seemingly simple
material, the transformations that take place throughout the movement show the
mark of a true genius.
The second movement moves to the remote key of B major, foreshadowed in the
first movement's exposition, and opens with a beautiful string melody. Its calm
and reflective character creates a perfect contrast to the heroic first
movement. The finale starts without interruption, the bridge from the second
movement being formed by a solo bassoon sounding a B natural which then moves
down to a B flat, the dominant of E flat. The finale is in an extended seven-part
rondo form (ABACABA), an often used pattern for concerto finales. Though in the
original tonic key of the first movement, the finale portrays an energetic joy
instead of grand heroism much like the variations that conclude the Eroica Symphony.
The Emperor Concerto was the only one of his piano concertos that
Beethoven did not perform himself, no doubt due to his increasing deafness and
withdraw from piano performance. Instead, it was first premiered in Leipzig in
1810 in which the solo part was performed by a young church organist named
Friedrich Schneider. The Vienna premiere took place later in 1812 with Carl
Czerny, a pupil and friend of Beethoven's, as soloist.
Courtesy of The International Festival-Institute at Round Top
Located in historic Round Top, Texas, The James Dick Foundation for the Performing Arts and its sole project, The International Festival-Institute at Round Top, were founded in 1971 by world-renowned concert pianist James Dick. Begun with a handful of gifted young pianists in rented space on the town square, the project is now an internationally acclaimed European-styled music institute for aspiring young musicians and distinguished faculty. Over a thirty eight year period and with the help of its patrons and friends, The James Dick Foundation for the Performing Arts has developed superb year round education and performance programs.
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