A translation of Nathan Fishman's analysis
of the sketches for the Third Symphony
contained in the Wielhorsky sketchbook

The following is a translation of the most important piece of Nathan Fishman's work: his analysis of the sketches for the Third Symphony which are contained in the Wielhorsky sketchbook (called by Fishman the "Heiligenstadt sketchbook"). This excerpt forms the last part of the first chapter of his volume of analyses - the chapter which deals with the origins and composition of the Eroica, whose title is "The Path to the Eroica Symphony (Путь к Героической Симфонии)". The translation begins with page 110 of Fishman's work and continues through the end of the chapter on page 128. Except where indicated by "[Ed.]", all footnotes are Fishman's; where it has been possible, links to works cited by Fishman which also appear in the main article's bibliography have been added. The only portions omitted are those which deal more with Marxist philosophy than with the music being discussed.

The first of the sketches in question is found on lines III-V on page 44. It begins with a broad cello melody reminiscent of a traditional slow introduction, similar to the introductions Beethoven used in his first two symphonies or in the overture to Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus:

musical example Fig. 55

This melody, which Beethoven composed just after he had completed the sketch work for the Op. 35 fugue, has much in common with the bass of the "Prometheus" theme, especially in the main turning points. At the same time Beethoven has added what is substantially new: the third of the [E-flat] harmony, which is one of the elements that serve to differentiate the beginning of the Allegro con brio from the beginning of the finale of the Eroica. In the sketch, however, this melody in the celli does not yet represent the main theme. We are still only in the introduction.

After the fermata other instruments, probably violins, begin to play. They repeat the first phrase of the celli in a faster tempo and then develop it in an ascending sequence that modulates from E-Flat major to F minor.

In this first stage of new harmonic movement and in the relationship between the cello and violin registers, we feel some kind of correspondence - very distant, of course - with the beginning of the Allegro con brio of the Eroica. Let us recall the sequence in bars 17-20 of the score that introduces a new upward direction to the basic motif of the main theme. The role that this sequence plays in the sketch we are now examining is analogous. Besides this similarity, however, our sketch has as yet nothing in common with the Allegro con brio.

After the sequence the melody of the sketch breaks off. A possibly significant segment of music is replaced by the word "etc." Beethoven then switches to the last three bars of the introduction. From the texture of music at this point, we may state with all certainty that we are dealing with an orchestral work. The chromatic melody, broken by short, specifically orchestral tremolos in the basses, leads to the tensely awaited tonic, which in turn leads to a change in meter and tempo to an Allegro in 3/4 time:

musical example Fig. 56

Why, these are the "four pillars"1 of the "Prometheus" bass! - the reader will exclaim as he scans the first two bars of the Allegro. He is absolutely correct. Only the meter and the rhythm are different. We should listen particularly closely to alternations of length within the three-beat measures, for this is the principal rhythmic feature of the beginning of the first movement of the symphony.

After he noted down four bars of the Allegro, Beethoven once again broke off work on the sketch. Apparently he was too busy at the time to write out the theme to its end, and had to get the contour of the entire exposition down on paper in one sitting. What composition was he working on? The answer to this question remains a puzzle. The Nohl-Lenz quarrel is still unresolved. But let us not close our Eroica scores yet.

In our efforts to fill in some of the details a hasty Beethoven omitted, we too must also operate with short "snatches" of music. Let us forget for the time being that part of the exposition in which Beethoven states the contrasting motif of the main theme with its powerful sforzandi. Let us also forget the bridge passage in which the oboe, clarinet and flute call tenderly back and forth to one another. None of this is to be found in the sketch. Beethoven is occupied here with something else - how to approach the second subject:

musical example Fig. 57

The lyrical melody in B-flat major, which is designated by the notation "2-da" (seconda parte) and fulfills the role of the second subject, has almost nothing in common with the exposition of the Allegro con brio. The only thing it shares with the final variant of the second subject [bars 84-94 of the score, in Fishman's analysis -Ed.] is the device of direct contrast between B-flat major and B-flat minor. On the other hand, the approach to the second theme as it stands in the sketch is very close to the bridge passage leading to the second theme in the published work. To prove this, it is enough to compare this approach with bars 63-66 of the score of the Allegro con brio where the same upward flight - to E-Flat of the third octave - occurs. These passages, performed by the first violins, could easily have originated from the broken arpeggios of dominant seventh-chords noted in the sketch.

The sketch variant of the approach to the second theme presents not only similarities with that of the published score, however, but also essential differences. For example, the use of syncopation, which is found in the sketch, also crops up in many parts of the Allegro con brio, but never in the bridge passage to the second subject. In addition, the preparation for the second theme by a tremolo in the strings is completely out of character with the completed work. (Beethoven uses a similar device for the transition from the development section to the recapitulation.) These differences, however, do not in themselves rule out the possibility of the sketch's being related to the symphony. In fact, the differences affirm the relationship; we need only consider one of the many intermediate stages that separate the 1802 sketch under consideration from the final 1804 version. Here is how the transition from the bridge passage to the second subject is stated in the second of the 1803 sketches for the exposition of the Allegro con brio:

musical example Fig. 58

As we see from this example, not only in 1802, but even as late as 1803, Beethoven was still planning to use both syncopation and tremolo just before the introduction of the second subject. It was only at a later stage that he gave up this intention.

Let us now turn to the second sketch of the exposition (lines X-XIV on page 44).

There is no slow introduction; the Allegro starts right off in 3/4 time. Nor does the beginning of the theme coincide as literally with the "Prometheus" bass-melody as it did in the first sketch. The theme assumes a more independent aspect. Its course is mapped out along the steps of a triad with the third falling on the weak beats. The approach to the repeat of the main theme in the upper register is quite clearly defined:

musical example Fig. 59#

Just as in the first sketch, everything connected with the musical development, with the transition from one section of the exposition to another, comes significantly closer to the later variants than does the formulation of thematic material. It is interesting to note that although the basic motif of the main theme of the Allegro con brio is still far from being precisely determined, the variant of the motif that Beethoven uses in the concluding section has already attained full stature:

musical example Fig. 60

The same may be said of the tense passages for the strings in the final section of the Allegro con brio, in which the harmony changes with every eighth-note. Although it is true that these passages figure as the principal element in the bridge section and not in the concluding section, there can nevertheless be no doubt as to the accuracy of Lenz's marginal note. How can we not recognize the Eroica in the following excerpt?

musical example Fig. 61

The Allegro con brio sketches start on page 44 of the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook and continue on to page 45. In the numerous drafts on these two pages, we find many musical ideas relating both to the exposition and to the development section. Even though they are still far from the finished work, these drafts fully define the atmosphere of the symphony. Some of them Beethoven rejected, but to others he planned to return in the future, when the piece had expanded to fit the proportions in which it had been conceived, and when it had become clear exactly which details should be extracted from this "stock pile."

On the top line of page 45 we find a melody whose beginning is very similar to the sketch variant of the main theme that appears for the first time on page 44. But as early as in the second measure it takes on the rhythmical form of the final version:

musical example Fig. 62

Of course, this sequence was not meant to be the first bars of the exposition. It is connected either with one of the repetitions of the theme in the exposition or with the development section. And so we may state that the rhythmic design that makes up the basic motif first crystallized with the formulation of one of the developmental stages of the theme rather than with that of the beginning of the Allegro con brio.

From the preceding examples of the original formulation of the material of the first movement of the Eroica, we can see that the argument between Lenz and Nohl was not only the result but also the cause of many misconceptions. Since Lenz left his "Eroica" indication (on page 44 of the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook) unexplained by not substantiating it with publication of the sketches and allowing it to be torn apart by Nohl, Beethoveniana has not paid it much attention or even treated it seriously. The first of the variants of the exposition of the Allegro con brio, written in the 1803 sketchbook, has been unanimously accepted as the first variant of any part of the exposition. But in fact, on the basis of the creative process we must propose a different starting point, which is opposed not only to Bekker's views, but also to those of Nottebohm, Rolland and many others. The second theme of the bridge passage, with its stormy headlong and impetuous movement, was written much earlier than the tender melody of the lyrical first theme of the bridge passage, and the formulation of the concluding section preceded the crystallization of the beginning of the exposition.2 As for the basic motif of the main theme, we see from the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook that it originates from rather long and complicated transmutations of the "Prometheus" bass. The opinion [Paul Bekker's - cf. n. 15 in the Introduction - Ed.] that Beethoven could have borrowed this theme from Mozart is thus refuted. It also becomes clear that the exact formulation of the theme in this instance was not a requisite but to a great extent a result of the musical conception of the whole.

The complex process by which the second and the "new" [this is Fishman's appellation for the E-minor theme of the development -Ed.] themes of the Allegro con brio took shape - as reflected in the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook - also affords much material for observation. In both the first and the second variants of the exposition written on page 44, the second theme does not resemble its final version. This should not surprise us, because later sketches published by G. Nottebohm show that Beethoven did not complete the second subject in its final form until he had reached the very last stages of composing the entire symphony.

The second of the variants of the second subject written on page 44 displays an important peculiarity which may most profitably be evaluated by comparison not with its final version but once again with an intermediate stage. This variant, composed in 1802, should be contrasted with an 1803 sketch of the "new" (and not the secondary) theme of the Allegro con brio:

musical example Fig. 63

As we see from this comparison, the theme that served as the basis for the later formulation of the "new" theme of the development originally played the role of the secondary theme of the exposition. But even after he had finished this "new" theme, the composer still did not incorporate it into the development section, but was planning to allot it the place in the exposition that belongs to the second subject.

Does this mean that when Beethoven began work on the Allegro con brio of the Eroica he had no idea at all that he would include the "new" theme in the development section? Let us turn to a sketch of the development section on the second line of page 45. In the first bars of this line we find octave jumps that obviously represent the climax of some contemplated upward movement. A lyrical theme follows the jumps and is in turn followed by the transition to the recapitulation (on lines III-IV). This lyrical theme does not have much in common with the sketches of the exposition. But does this really new (third) theme bear any resemblance to the "new" theme in the development section of the Allegro con brio? No, it does not. But what if we compare it, as we have done before, to an intermediate stage instead of to the completed composition? Suppose we contrast this 1802 variant with an 1803 sketch for the second subject - and not the "new" theme:

musical example Fig. 64

It seems that in the process of the sketch work (which lasted for two years), the second subject of the exposition and the "new" theme of the development changed places. Moreover, once we turn from the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook and concentrate on the 1803 sketches for the Allegro con brio, we will also discover that in the process of its formulation the second subject was influenced to a certain degree by the earlier formulation of the "new" theme. Here, for example, is a variant of the "new" theme as it appears in the first of the 1803 sketches for the development section (even at this point, the variant is close to the final version):

musical example Fig. 65

And here is one of the last sketch variants of the second subject:

musical example Fig. 66

The general idea of the process is as follows: the first variant of the second subject of the exposition, i.e., the variant that created the "new" theme of the development, is completely dissolved in this "new" theme. Once the "new" theme takes shape, it pays back the theme of the second subject in kind. The result is a peculiar type of bifurcation: one variant of the second subject is used for the development section, and another for the exposition. This explanation will clear up the puzzlement which George Grove felt when he wrote: "Oddly enough, Beethoven made very little use of this [secondary] theme. In the development section he does not return to it at all, and it is not until the recapitulation that it again turns up in its proper place."3

If Grove had seen the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook, he would have realized that the secondary theme of the exposition and the "new" theme of the development section are completely inseparable from each other, and that the lyrical episode of the development section is really the musical development of the secondary part of the first movement (and here we mean the secondary part in its broadest sense).

But why in the process of his sketch work did Beethoven feel it necessary to switch the places of the secondary and "new" themes - both of which are merely variants of the secondary part of the first movement, again in the broad sense? The reason is probably that as the heroic image grew, the usual exposition framework of the second subject became too limited for the embodiment of a melody that was to express the highest of ideals. A series of preparatory musical and dramatic events were needed. This is why Beethoven transferred the "Prometheus" Urmelodie from the exposition to the development section. This may also be one of the reasons for the colossal proportions of the development section: it surpasses all other Beethoven development sections in absolute and relative size.4

After the first draft of the new theme which we saw on line 2, page 45 of the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook, Beethoven made another short draft, as we have already noted, that treats the moment of transition from the development section to the recapitulation. Our examination of this draft, however, should be prefaced by a well-known and very humorous anecdote from Beethoven's life.

It would be hard to find in all of musical literature a two-bar phrase that gave rise to so much idle talk as the cue for the second horn before the recapitulation of the Allegro con brio of the Third Symphony (bars 398-399 of the score). F. Ries, who was present at the rehearsal of the first performance of the symphony, thought when he heard it that the horn player had come in too early. "The damned horn player can't even count," Ries exclaimed. Beethoven was furious at his student. "I believe," Ries continues, "I was not far from getting a slap in the face."5

Ries, however, was by far not the only one to doubt the accuracy of the horn's entrance. Several nineteenth century Italian conductors considered it as a misprint at the end of the development section and made the horn-player play his entrance in the tenor clef, i.e., in B-Flat major.6 Even Wagner was misled on this point: although he left the horn part untouched, he asked the second violins to tremolo during these two bars on the third (G) and not the seventh of the dominant -- A-Flat.7 Berlioz, too, considered this famous "Cumulus" an oddity. "Strictly speaking," he writes, "it is difficult to find serious justification for this musical caprice. If Beethoven really did stand by this device, and if the anecdotes based on it contain a grain of truth, I must confess it was an awkward caprice."8

Nottebohm has refuted these doubts by establishing that the paradoxical harmony in bars 398-399 of the score of the Eroica is not the result of an accident but rather of long and careful consideration on the part of Beethoven before he included it in the final copy of the score. Nottebohm demonstrated that in the 1803 sketches there are variants with an even sharper harmony: the strings tremolo on the third of the dominant (D) and not the seventh, thereby setting up a minor second against the tonic9:

musical example Fig. 67

This draft was made on page 30 of the 1803 sketchbook. In the same book, however, we find other variants of the transition to the recapitulation in which the composer is obviously unsure as to the advisability of using such an effect. For example, a variant of the transition found on page 33 is almost identical to the final variant, whereas a later variant, found on page 35, has no trace whatsoever of the pre-recapitulation entrance of the horn:

musical example Fig. 68

Let us now compare these variations with the draft of the transition to the recapitulation which was composed a year earlier and is to be found on the third and fourth lines of page 45 of the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook:

musical example Fig. 69

The solo horn does not yet have the entrance that caused Beethoven to get so angry at Ries. But the combination tonic under dominant is very clearly outlined. Thus, the "false" entrance that has caused such a fuss among conductors and horn-players has behind it the careful consideration which we have already studied. And it cannot be overemphasized that Beethoven was concerned about the moment of the transition to the recapitulation at the very first stage of his work on the symphony. This shows the great importance Beethoven attached to this point in the musical drama, a point connected with the affirmation of victory. It is no coincidence that after the sketch for the transition to the recapitulation, we find a whole series of drafts (lines V-IX on page 45 of the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook) based on a joyful fanfare of victory:

musical example Fig. 70

These fanfares appear in the Eroica, but not in the Allegro con brio. We will be returning to the above example somewhat later when we talk about the marvelous metamorphosis of the Minuetto serioso into a "hunting" scherzo. And now let us examine the creative processes behind the second movement of the symphony -- the brilliant Marcia funebre. It would be difficult to name another period in history when Trauermusik played such an important role in social life as the years preceding Beethoven's activity as a composer of symphonies. The French revolution invoked the patriotic Muse to strew heroes' graves with flowers. M. J. Chenier addressed composers directly: "Somber, touching harmonies, let us hear your chords!"10

Francois Gossec's Marche lugubre, first performed at Mirabeau's funeral, enjoyed immense popularity and became the model for many marches funebres composed in the nineteenth century. The line of succession leads straight to Beethoven, and it may even be said that to a certain extent Gossec anticipated Beethoven's Trauermusik. As an example let us compare the middle section of Gossec's Marche lugubre with the first sketches for the Marcia funebre sulla morte d'un eroe from the A-Flat Major Sonata, Op 26., Of course the similarity is caused in this case by the common element of a tragic experience and by the unity of the musical and inspirational base. This unity, however, is in itself significant: 11

musical example Fig. 71

But if Gossec's funeral march is a separate work destined for performance by a military band, Beethoven solves the problem of how to integrate this type of revolutionary music into a symphonic sonata cycle. For proof of how effective his solution was, we do not need to confine ourselves to Beethoven's work. We know, for example, that Beethoven's combination of a funeral march and a Moto perpetuo in his Sonata Op. 26 was later richly developed in Chopin's B Minor Sonata. Of course we must not conclude that Chopin's brilliant monophonic writing should be examined through the prism of the finale of Beethoven's Sonata in A-Flat Major. The content of these works is basically different. But the dramatic principles reflect a direct relationship. 12

In fact, a sort of Moto perpetuo follows the funeral march in the Eroica too. The conception here is basically the same as in the Op. 26 Sonata: a man's death is transitory, while mankind lives into eternity. But in the Symphony, the Moto perpetuo (Scherzo) does not end the work. It is merely the transition to the final apotheosis - the image of a nation-wide celebration which we might describe in the words of Peyan:

This music, these cries of joy flying upward to the heavens, these waves of a fraternal people, waves whose swelling - great and small - expressed both a burst of grateful ecstasy and serene tranquility of social conscience . . . and finally the hymn of victory, uniting the people with their representatives, hands raised, stretched toward the heavens, taking oaths before the sun . . . 13

Connected by the Moto perpetuo with the apotheosis-celebration, the funeral march of the Eroica also directly anticipates the Allegro con brio - the tragic canvas of the battle. If the finale displays a hitherto unknown grandiosity in the development of the variation form, the first movement does the same for the sonata-allegro form. We may ask whether the funeral march, standing between these two giants, could have held its own if it had been written in the tripartite form which we usually associate with this type of music, i.e., in the form of Gossec's Marche lugubre, the Marcia funebre sulla morte d'un eroe in Beethoven's Sonata Op. 26, or the funeral march from Chopin's B Minor Sonata? Scarcely. The construction of the Eroica's funeral march had to be integrated with that of the first and last movements. And in fact it is just as much the model of a symphonization of a march as the finale is of the symphonization of the variation form. It also boasts of a development section in which Beethoven makes wide use of polyphonic development techniques. "Three sources are united in this magnificent picture," writes I. J. Ryzhkin, "the funeral marches of the French Revolution, the tragic pages of polyphonic art (J. S. Bach) and the slow movements of the classical symphony - images of social and national significance, profound philosophical thoughts, individual psychological character." 14

One more source must be added to these three. It is found outside the purely musical plane and is characteristic not only of Beethoven's Marcia funebre but of all burial ceremonies in revolutionary France at the end of the 18th century . . .

[There follows a passage describing the Greek and Roman traditions employed in these ceremonies, which is omitted from this translation. -Ed.]

. . . All this and much more is reminiscent of scenes like the one that inspired Berlioz as he conducted the funeral march of the Eroica - the burial of Palant in the 11th book of Virgil's Aeneid.15 Of course Berlioz's parallel is not based on any factual data and must not be taken literally. He does not suggest that Beethoven actually had Virgil's classical description of a funeral before his eyes as he composed the funeral march. But profound artist that he was, Berlioz guessed the presence of a link between Beethoven's march and the tragic heroes of antiquity. A century after Berlioz musicology is beginning to understand this link and to apply it in its studies. It is no coincidence that J. Racek hears the embodiment of scenes from Aeschylus in this march.16 When he composed his funeral march - "in honor of the memory of a great man" - Beethoven, as well as other of his fellow revolutionaries, was invoking the spirits of the past and conjuring up the dead for the exaltation of a new battle. Let us recall here the passages he copied into his diary out of Homer. And let us recall his dictum: "No matter what people say about the past, it still appears as the present."17

The main theme of the Eroica's funeral march is one of the greatest revelations of music as an art and at the same time one of the most popular of all musical motifs. Words cannot describe the depth of the impression it makes on all who hear it. It is not that its emotional meaning is unclear - rather, it is precisely the opposite: it is much clearer than words. It is expressed in music with the utmost degree of clarity, a clarity that words cannot attain when it comes to the universal expression of the condition of the soul and character of man's experiences.

What can we say, for example, about the melody with the sharply dotted rhythm in the third bar of the Marcia? Anyone who still has an ounce of feeling left in him cannot fail to feel compassion when he hears it. Many are reminded of those sacred minutes before the final departure of a loved one. Who can describe these last moments in words?

Beethoven too had a hard time choosing the necessary "words." It is clear from the sketches that every turn of the main theme of the March was literally the object of a stubborn struggle; he was searching for this funereal melody, later to become immortal, in the inmost recesses of his heart. How did he find it? How was it written?

The reader is already aware that in 1800, while he was working on the ninth number of the ballet Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus, Beethoven conceived a tragic motif to express the sufferings and death of Prometheus that later was directly incorporated into the symphony. [See "The Music of the Ballet" in the main article. -Ed.] But at that time the idea was only "understood" (Beethoven's word) and not yet fully "felt." The sketch designated "Prometheus weint" is not used in the ballet.

Later, in 1802, Beethoven composed the Marcia in C minor for the fifth variation of Op. 34. Here one finds motifs outlined which are close to the opening phrases of the Eroica funeral march. On the whole, however, the fifth variation from Op. 34 cannot at all measure up to the Adagio assai of the symphony.

Finally, the composer seems to find a rapprochement between the burial motif of Op. 34 and the unrealized sketch for the ballet. This rapprochement forms the base on which the main theme of the funeral march of the symphony was later to grow:18

musical example Fig. 72

Thus, if the main theme of the Allegro con brio originates from a fusion of the Prometheus melody and the Prometheus bass, the main theme of the Marcia funebre is an integral of a different type: not a fusion but rather a coupling of the C minor Op. 34 variation and the Prometheus weint sketch. If we take the entire Eroica as a unified, inseparable whole, two main themes come to the fore and reign over all others. The first of these themes is the Prometheus theme which comes from the ballet by way of Op. 35, and undergoes manifold modifications in the Allegro con brio, the finale and, as I will demonstrate below, in the Scherzo. The second theme dominates in the Marcia funebre and does not undergo any basic modification in the process of development.

From the above example (Illustration 72) to the final version of the main theme of the Funeral March there was still a long way to go. In Nottebohm's publication of the 1803 sketchbook there are only several drafts of the March, cited in the sequence in which they appear on pages 6, 42, 43 and 49 of this book. But in all probability Nottebohm did not take full account of the chronological order of the sketches. In particular, he did not pay any attention to the fact that the sketch on page 42 was most likely written not before, but after the original variant of the sketch on page 43. This fact is of great significance for characterizing formulation of the theme:

musical example Fig. 73

The first sketch we find on page 6 is stated not in 2/4 but in 4/4 -- twice as long as the final version. The decision that followed shortly after to change the meter was probably prompted by a desire to emphasize the quick forward motion of the music. Perhaps the inconsistency between the metronome marking (an eighth-note = 80) and the tempo marking (Adagio assai) that has been noted by F. Weingartner19 may also be traced to the same source: a slow tempo, incompatible with the static character he was looking for, seemed to Beethoven a greater evil than the tendency to liven up the movement.

Also reflected in these first sketches is the process by which Beethoven experimented with various theme-climax points. Even when he was composing the ninth number for the ballet Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus in 1800, Beethoven knew that the highest note should fall on the sixth of the scale and would be preceded by an interval of a diminished fifth. But both in the 1800 and the first 1803 sketch, this high point falls on the weak beat of the sixth measure of the theme, i.e., at the end of the phrase's climax. It was not until later that he found that point which best dominates over the entire orchestra. This point, of course, turned out to be the first beat of the sixth measure. To make this point stand out more clearly, Beethoven prepared it by means of tense, upward movement (this is connected with filling in the diminished fifth with notes of the C minor scale).

Determining a place for the climax and an approach to the climax did not yet complete the theme. The last two bars of the phrase - the post-climactic descending line - still had to be written. Beethoven vacillates between allotting the entire bar, 3/4, 1/2 or 1/4 of the bar to the melody's peak; he tries to descend by using a sharp, dotted rhythm and a broad wave-like line. He is also unsure how he will place the final periods, whether he will bring the theme to a stop on the first beat of the last bar or to a softened, weak and feminine ending. The guideposts that direct him to his final decision are graphically demonstrated by the corrections he makes in the fourth sketch: everything that could for any reason be associated with pitiful sentimentality he got rid of. Beethoven concluded the theme with the masculine motif:

musical example Fig. 73a

Although its genesis is not connected with the Prometheus Urmelodie, the symphony's funeral march is not free from functional correlations with various of the Urmelodie's modifications. The relationship between the two is especially strong in the second (E~flat major) theme of the funeral march when -- according to A. Al'švang's successful description - "a stream of heroic emotions break through the cloud of the funeral genre bearing the news that the heroic idea lives on even after the hero perishes"20:

musical example Fig. 74

The character of this parallel differs essentially from those drawn above between the Prometheus theme and the main theme of the Allegro con brio. In the first movement the common ground of these themes consists of the Prometheus bass that Beethoven uses as a point of departure in both cases. And even though the themes move further and further apart as Beethoven works and reworks them, they still retain their inner unity. Here, in the funeral march, we observe the reverse. The basic theme has nothing in common with the Prometheus theme. But as the symphony develops as a whole, Beethoven finds ways of bringing the new and the old themes closer together and gradually unifying them.

The use of this creative principle exceeds the limits of the formation of musical themes as such and belongs rather to the area of development. It is interesting to contrast the funeral march's brilliant fugato with the Eroica-fugue of the finale from this viewpoint. If we ignore the basic difference of concrete music content, we will uncover certain methodological similarities in the construction of the form. Thus, for example, in both the Marcia and in the finale polyphony is used as a powerful means of broadening the framework of an originally unpolyphonic form (in one case variation and in the other tripartite); both the finale's fugue and the march have as their starting points an inverted theme; in both cases the polyphonic foreground unfolds against a backdrop of longer notes. Moreover, the Marcia fugato represents the peak of sorrow - one of the most tragic passages in all music literature, whereas the Eroica-fugue of the finale is a paean of joy and one of the most optimistic passages in all music literature.

Analyzing the sketches of the first movement of the symphony in the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook, we met with a misunderstanding arising from a misinterpretation of Lenz's indication "Eroica" on page 44. A similar type of indication -- in the upper right-hand corner of page 16 next to Beethoven's note "Todtenmarsch" - has led to a completely different type of misunderstanding.

Beethoven's note refers here to two notes which are the upbeat to the fifth variation of Op. 34. Once he had outlined these notes and defined them with the word "Todtenmarsch," Beethoven designated the next segment of the variation - which he did not write out - with the word "etc.", and going on to the next page, wrote the ending of the fifth and the beginning of the sixth variation of the F major cycle.

But when Lenz was looking through the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook in the Wielhorsky library, he was so much taken by the word "Todtenmarsch" that he did not think to examine its environment and so considered these two notes the opening of the funeral march of the Third Symphony and wrote "Eroica" next to them. This inaccuracy is strongly reflected in Lenz's Catalog,21 from whence it became accepted by musicologists. It has since led to much distortion of the facts of the history of the composition of the Third Symphony.22

Thus, for example, A. Thayer, who proposed that the Op. 85 oratorio dates from l801,23 related the sketch of the funeral march mentioned by Lenz with the reminiscences of a contemporary of Beethoven - a certain Doctor Bertolini - who states that Beethoven composed the funeral march for the death of General Abercrombie who fell in action on March 28, 1801 with General Menu's troops in Egypt. This would seem to be confirmed by Beethoven's sketch of 1801 that is supposedly related to the funeral march.

However, since Lenz says nothing in his Catalog about the presence of sketches relating to the Allegro con brio and the Scherzo in the sketchbook from the Wielhorsky library; and since Nottebohm wrote in 1880 that Beethoven did not start work on the symphony before 1802, scholars accepted the opinion - and accepted it as indisputab1e - that plans for the even (second and fourth) and odd (first and third) movements of the symphony are separated by a two-year period; that the funeral march was inserted as a supplement for some kind of special reason, etc., etc. Even in the most detailed recent scholarly indices of Beethoven's work (including Kinsky's index) we cannot find a precise dating of the Eroica.

Although he connects the short Todtenmarsch fragment (which in reality belongs to Op. 34) with the symphony, Lenz does not mention in his Catalog the sketches from lines VI-IX on page 44 of the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook. The fact that these drafts are surrounded by sketches for the Allegro con brio of the Eroica, however, cannot but evoke the following question: are not they too related to the same Symphony?

The first of these drafts bears the title Adagio in C major. The theme of this Adagio, which lasts for four bars on line VI, has certain traits in common with the oboe melody at the beginning of the Maggiore from the Adagio assai of the Symphony (bars 69-70 of the second movement). True, the sketch is in 6/8 and the Maggiore of the funeral march is in 2/4. But then again, the Maggiore theme in the symphony is backed up by almost continuous triplets.

After the Adagio theme, i.e., after the "etc." note, we find two excerpts on lines VI-VIII, p. 44, in which this triplet background is represented. In the fourth measure of line VII Beethoven breaks off his statement of this background to note down a broad, deeply mournful melody to be played by the bassoon:

musical example Fig. 75

Next comes the last of the excerpts relating to the C major Adagio. It is a line that undergoes much intensification and is accompanied by the dynamic marking: "cres. più forte e sempre più voce" which gives way to a quick abatement of intensity. The marking "cresc. sempre più forte" also figures with the same significance before the Maggiore in the Marcia.

All these data, of course, do not permit us to state that lines VI-VIII on page 44 make up the first draft of the Maggiore from the funeral march. But let us turn to two other markings which Beethoven made at the end of line VIII and the beginning of line IX. The first of them runs: "aus dem Adagio im M." The second is "Minuetto serioso" (the title of the sketch on line IX). What can "M." mean? There are two possible answers: "M." stands for either the Marcia or the Minuetto which were to follow the Adagio. If we opt for Marcia, then there is no need to continue arguing whether the Adagio in C major belongs to the symphony or not (let us keep in mind that the Adagio is in the same "environment" as sketches for the first movement of the Eroica). But can we come to the same conclusion if the "M." stands for Minuetto and not Marcia?

Let us turn to the sketches for the Minuetto serioso and trace the development of its theme. Here is the original variant:

musical example Fig. 76

And here is the development and final variant:

musical example Fig. 77

Although the last of these sketch-variants, which comes from the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook, is close, as we see, to the final version of the Scherzo of the Third Symphony, it is also separated from it by a two-year period. And from the sketches published by Nottebohm we know that Beethoven did not make the decision to turn the third movement of the Eroica from a minuet into a scherzo until he had reached page 60 of the 1803 sketchbook, i.e., not long after he had completely finished work on the symphony. This "jump" from a minuet to a scherzo in 1803 (I have used here Nottebohm's expression "Sprunge"24) is graphically described by Rolland:

. . . We have a striking example in the third movement of the Eroica, which he began as a minuet and continued as a minuet until the trio (trio in its generally accepted form) and even further. Then, suddenly returning to the minuet, he sketched the following:

musical example Fig. 78

His pen begins to twitch. He writes "Presto." Down with the measured grace of the minuet! Up with a brilliant, bubbling Scherzo! 25 Although both Nottebohm and Rolland mention this turning point on page 60 of the 1803 sketches, neither of them points out that the reason for the final metamorphosis is the distinctive meeting of the minuet with the main theme of the Allegro con brio. Here is how the 1803 sketch of the Trio looks up to the point where it stops being a minuet:

musical example Fig. 79

This is the point where Beethoven's "pen began to twitch." Beethoven no longer returned to the Minuet. But let us compare this Trio with the main theme of the Allegro con brio:

musical example Fig. 80

It is obvious that the "jump" was directly connected with the recurrent modification of the Prometheus theme. Further on this theme continues to gain strength, not only in the Trio where it represents the "hunters' music" but also in the Moto perpetuo:

musical example Fig. 81

As we can see, it is again the Prometheus theme - the symphony's Urnelodie - that plays a decisive role: this time in turning the third movement from a minuet into a scherzo. Now there can no longer be any doubt about the fact that the Adagio in C major is a draft of the middle of the second movement and that the indication "aus dem Adagio im M." refers to the implied recapitulation of this movement.

* * * * *

The data we have gathered from our analysis permit us to make the following conclusions concerning the history of the composition of the Eroica Symphony.

The first musical idea of the funeral march arose in Beethoven's creative imagination as early as 1800 while he was working on Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus, and is directly related to the reproduction in music of the sufferings and death of Prometheus. It may also be at this time that Beethoven made his decision to compose a symphonic work that would include Trauermusik.

The Variations Op. 34 as well as those of the Op. 35 cycle may be looked upon as a preparatory stage to the composition of the symphony. And we may consider the sketches for the fifth variation (Todtenmarsch) of Op. 34 and sketches for the introduction, fugues and a number of variations of Op. 35 as the first drafts of the second and fourth movements of the Eroica.

The theory generally accepted among Beethoven scholars, that the second and fourth movements were written in 1801 and the first and third in 1803 is absolutely false. The fact is that Beethoven started work on all the movements almost simultaneously in the summer of 1802 when he was in Heiligenstadt.

The finale of the Eroica is closely related not only to the final number but also to the introduction and first number of Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus both by its thematic unity with them and the similarity of expressive devices Beethoven used in both instances.

The composition of the first part of the symphony grew directly out of work on the Eroica-fugue. The main theme of the first movement, as well as a number of other themes used in the symphony, are modifications of the Prometheus theme.

After considering the data presented here, we may accept as fully established the fact that Prometheus' heroic image is relevant not only to the fourth but to all the movements of the symphony. Beethoven himself apparently felt no reason to hide this, for in 1803 when he was doing his most intensive work on the symphony, he insisted on publishing the Op. 35 Prometheus cycle.

Beethoven' s interpretation of the ancient myth, however, turned out to differ essentially from that of Vigano in his scenario for the Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus.

As we know, of Aeschylus' famous Prometheus trilogy, only the tragedy Prometheus Bound and fragments of the following tragedy Prometheus Unchained have been preserved. And because we have no remnants of the drama Prometheus the Fire-Bearer we cannot establish the position it occupied within the cycle. The question of whether it was to be the opening or closing part has remained unresolved by literary scholars.

Certain literary historians cite the mythological variant that has Hercules liberate Prometheus according to the will of Zeus and have often tried to prove that it was Aeschyus' intention to censure Prometheus' "revolt." Such an interpretation, which grossly contradicts the content of Prometheus Bound, has been strongly protested by progressive artists. Here is what Shelley had to say about this in the Introduction to his lyrical drama Prometheus Unbound.

But, in truth, I was averse to a catastrophe so feeble as that of reconciling the Champion with the Oppressor of Mankind. The moral interest of the fable, which is so powerfully sustained by the sufferings and endurance of Prometheus, would be annihilated if we could conceive of him as unsaying his high language and quailing before his successful and perfidious adversary.26

Judging by its scenario, Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus had very little in common with Greek drama. Thus, for example, the unchaining (rebirth) of Prometheus is accomplished in the ballet by a nature god (Pan) and not by a human (Hercules). As far as the general outline of the ballet is concerned, we have the following: first Prometheus the Fire-Bearer, then Prometheus Bound, and finally Prometheus Unchained.

We must also emphasize in this connection that in the second part of this outline, Prometheus is not only temporarily defeated, but killed (Melpomene kills him in the ninth number, and Pan resurrects him in the tenth). This is why we find the indication "Prometheus mort" several times in the 1800 sketchbook.

As he composed the music to the ballet, Beethoven could alter nothing of Vigano's outline except to include a symphonic overture depicting the image of Prometheus the theomachist. But in the Symphony, after having painted the battle for the bright ideal of mankind in the first movement, the composer seems to reconstruct the outline of what is to come: the death of Prometheus - the second movement, the rebirth (liberation) of Prometheus - the third movement, and finally, Prometheus the Fire-Bearer - the fourth movement. If in the second movement Beethoven expressed deep sorrow for the sacrifice in the name of justice, in the third movement as he composed the hunter's music perhaps he saw before him an archer who never misses aiming his arrows at Zeus's cruel eagle. And the fourth movement is the general celebration, whose apotheosis is to be found in the hymn of glory, a loving song of peace.

In 1802, the same year in which Beethoven started work on the Eroica, Herder's Prometheus Unchained appeared for the first time. Prometheus' words to the Ocean could have served as an epigraph to Beethoven's Symphony:

The distance of world space is invisible, And all that is in it belongs to everyone.27
But why, the reader will ask, did Bonaparte's name originally figure on the title page of the Symphony?

Let us recall Lenin's definition of Napoleon's historical role . . .

The idea of writing a composition to glorify Napoleon Bonaparte came to Beethoven when Napoleon was still consul and perhaps only general of the French revolutionary army. There is nothing surprising in the fact that Beethoven should associate the image of Napoleon with that of Prometheus as a herald of ideas of progress. Moreover, Beethoven never in the least aimed at "depicting" Napoleon himself. If he had, the inclusion of a funeral march would have been completely nonsensical; Napoleon was on the march from one victorious battle to the next.

But at the same time the presence of a funeral march in the Symphony was also a reason for Beethoven's adding "in honor of the memory of a great man" to the title page after Napoleon's coronation. This addition was made not without sarcasm. It reflects a change in Beethoven's attitude towards Napoleon, who had changed from the herald of freedom into its stifler, from the champion of mankind into its oppressor.


[1] A designation made first by Romain Rolland [Ed.].

[2] It is worthy of note that elements of the concluding section of the Allegro con brio are more distinctly defined in the 1802 sketch than in the early 1803 sketches. And in the last (fourth) sketch made in 1803, it seems as if Beethoven is returning to the variant he composed a year earlier.

[3] G. Grove, Beethoven und seine neun Symphonien (London, 1906), p. 62.

[4] The table below gives the lengths for the expositions and development sections of all nine Beethoven syrnphonies (this table is based on calculations made by A. Lorenz in his Neues Beethoven-Jahrbuch in 1924):
SymphonyNo. of barsRatio of the length of
19768 1.4:1

[5] Biographische notizen uber Ludwig van Beethoven, p. 94.

[6] G. Grove, Beethoven und seine neun Symphonien (London, 1906), p. 66.

[7] G. Grove, Beethoven und seine neun Symphonien (London, 1906), p. 66.

[8] Г. Берлиоз [H. Berlioz]. Симфонии Бетховена. [The Symphonies of Beethoven.] (St. Petersburg: 1896), p. 16. (A travers chants, p. 22.)

[9] Cf. N1880 [Mies (ed.) 1924], at 29.

[10] Cf. Ж. Тьерсо. Песни и празднества французской революции ["Songs and Festivals of the French Revolution"]. Moscow, 1933, p. 52.

[11] Gossec's march is cited from the book Cжатый очерк истории музыки ["Short Sketches in the History of Music"], Е. М. Браудо [E. M. Braudo] (Moscow, 1935), p.159. The sketch for Beethoven's march appears on page 56 of the Landsberg sketchbook, which contains sketches for the ballet Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus, as discussed earlier.

[12] A detailed analysis of the question of the derived connections between Beethoven's A-Flat Major Sonata and Chopin's B Minor Sonata will be found in the collection published by the Beethoven Centennial in Vienna in 1927: Beethoven-Zentenarfeier. Internationaler Musikhistorischer Kongress ("Chopins Sonaten und ihr Verhältnis zum Beethovenschen Stil," pp. 138-141).

[13] From the report and decree of June 29, l794, of the Committee on General Education. The quoted excerpt appears in the account of the Revolutionary Festival of February 20, which is given in Romain Rolland's book The National Theater, pp. 114-115 of the Russian edition published in 1932.

[14] И. Я. Рыжкин. Бетховен и классический симфонизм [I. J. Rizhkin, Beethoven and Classical Symphonism] (Moscow 1938), p. 11.

[15] Berlioz cites the following lines in his analysis of the funeral march (see "A travers chants," p. 22):
  Chariots stained with blood carry the Rutuls
  Next walks the war horse Eton without any medals
  Crying, with large tears rolling down his cheeks.

[16] Beethoven (Praha [Prague] 1956), p.84.

[17] Cited in A. Leitzmann, Beethovens Briefe und persönliche Aufzeichnungen, p. 62).

[18] I have reproduced here only the upper voice of the Marcia sketch made on page 16 of the Heiligenstadt Sketchbook.

[19] Ratschläge für Aufführungen der Symphonien Beethovens (Leipzig, 1916), pp. 43-4.

[20] А. Альшванг. Бетховен [A. Al'švang, Beethoven (Moscow, 1952)], p. 139.

[21] With these two notes in mind, Lenz writes in his Catalog about a "hint" of the Eroica's funeral march in Wielhorsky's sketchbook without connecting this "hint" with Op. 34. (See Lenz, Vol. III, p. 222.)

[22] Although L. Nohl pointed out this inaccuracy in his polemic with Lenz, it was somehow just this point that has escaped later critics' attention. (See Nohl, p. 97).

[23] See Thayer, Vol. II, p. 421. I will be giving more detailed information about the dating of the Op. 85 oratorio on pp. 170-171 of this study.

[24] N1880 [Mies (ed.) 1924], at 46.

[25] Rolland, p. 93.

[26] P. Shelley, Complete Works [in Russian - St. Petersburg, 1904], vol. II, p. 334.

[27] J. Herder, Sämtliche Werke (Tübingen, 1806), Vol. VI, p. 73.

E.g., Grove (repr.) 1962, 58-60, 93; Bekker 1912, 216. Mozart was twelve when he wrote Bastien et Bastienne in 1768 for the renowned Viennese hypnotist, Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer. The work, which is only 35 minutes or so in duration, appears to have been given a single performance in the garden Marionettentheater (puppet theater) at Dr. Mesmer’s home. It is not known to have been performed elsewhere, or to have been published, until after its rediscovery in connection with the Mozart Zentenarfeier in Vienna in 1891. (See Kloiber 1973, at 315.) The contrast between the formal manner in which the twelve-year-old Mozart uses the theme in the opera’s short intrada and the organic way in which Beethoven uses it to engender a complete symphonic movement (which lasts almost as long as Mozart’s entire opera!) could not be more striking. As will be shown by the evidence to be reviewed in this article, Beethoven evolved the theme linearly, out of his work on the piano variations op. 35, and thus, apart from the difficulty in envisioning how Beethoven could even have been aware of Mozart’s once-performed Singspiel, it can be concluded only that the similarity between the two works is sheer coincidence. As Lewis Lockwood stated after examining the Beethoven’s early sketches for the Symphony, “. . . even now this myth [of Beethoven borrowing from Mozart] dies hard in some quarters, but it surely can be laid to rest for good.” Lockwood 1981, at 469, repr. Lockwood 1992, at 144.