Today's Classical Music Video

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chronological Survey of Beethoven Eroica Symphony Recordings

There have been dozens of recordings of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony made over the years. The first one dates from the 1920s. It would be a daunting task to listen to them all and make detailed comparisons. But someone has gone to the trouble of taking just the two opening chords and comparing performances of them in chronological order. No commentary is offered. You'll have to draw your own conclusions. What does it all mean? Probably very little. It would be foolish to compare performances of the Eroica Symphony, a work lasting about 45 minutes, just based on what the conductor does with the first two notes.

There are also technical problems with this survey. In several cases there is not enough time left between the examples to appreciate them properly. And some of the choices for the survey are quite arbitrary. Some of the best Eroicas are left out and some obscure ones are included.

You will also note that there are pitch variances. In most cases that has to do with the choice of a lower pitch by period instrument orchestras.

Another factor is the acoustics of the place where the recording was made, and this can greatly affect the length of the notes. In the Mengelberg example, the resonance of the Concertgebouw makes the notes ring forever.

My thanks to Michael Vincent for bringing this video to my attention.


Paul E. Robinson



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