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Vienna's Darkest Hour

Duration:
1 hour
First broadcast:
Wednesday 14 December 2011

Donald Macleod introduces Beethoven's incidental music for a play by Goethe, the aptly named 'Serioso' string quartet, and a piano fantasia, all written during the dark days following the Napoleonic occupation of Vienna.
Thanks to the occupation of Vienna by Napoleon's troops in 1809, the citizens suffered great hardships including rising prices, crippling taxes and food shortages. Beethoven had just negotiated a comfortable financial package from three of his patrons when soaring inflation caused its value to drop dramatically and he struggled to make ends meet. Donald Macleod looks at works written during these straitened circumstances, including the incidental music to Goethe's play Egmont in which Beethoven gives his heartfelt response to the invasion. Also, the Piano Fantasia, one of a group of solo piano works written that same year, which gives some indication of the remarkable skill Beethoven was renowned for as an improviser. And the piano trio named after his patron and faithful friend, Archduke Rudolph Rudolph, begun in 1810, and from the late summer of that year, a new string quartet, full of extreme anguish and compressed intensity, aptly named 'Serioso'.

Music Played

6 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for Ludwig van Beethoven

    Ludwig van Beethoven 6 Songs Op.75

    Performer: Roger VIGNOLES - Piano Performer: Stephan GENZ - Baritone

    HYPERION, CDA-67055

  • Image for Ludwig van Beethoven

    Ludwig van Beethoven Egmont - incidental music Op.84

    Conductor: Daniel HARDING Performer: German Chamber Philharmonic

    VIRGIN CLASSICS, VC 5 45364-2

  • Image for Ludwig van Beethoven

    Ludwig van Beethoven Fantasia in G minor Op.77 for piano

    Performer: Jonathan BISS - Piano

    EMI, 5-85894 2

  • Image for Ludwig van Beethoven

    Ludwig van Beethoven Trio in B flat major Op.97 (Archduke) for piano and strings

    Performer: Kempf Piano Trio

    BIS, SACD1172

  • Image for Ludwig van Beethoven

    Ludwig van Beethoven Neue Liebe, neues Leben WoO.127 for voice and piano

    Performer: Roger VIGNOLES - Piano (Piano) Performer: Stephan GENZ - Baritone (Baritone)

    HYPERION, CDA-67055

  • Image for Ludwig van Beethoven

    Ludwig van Beethoven Quartet in F minor Op.95 for strings

    Performer: Hagen String Quartet

    DG RECORDS, 457-615 2

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