Donald Macleod introduces Beethoven's music for a play by Goethe and a piano fantasia, both written during the dark days following the Napoleonic occupation of Vienna.
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'.