Nevertheless, it was clear that Ludwig had consciously planned to compose a work of unequaled breadth and scope. Three years before he wrote the Eroica, Beethoven had declared he was discontent with the quality of his compositions thus far and Henceforth [he] shall take a new path.
Key and Structure of the Eroica Symphony
The work was composed in E flat major and the orchestration called for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, three horns, two trumpets, timpani, and strings. Hector Berlioz discussed Beethovens use of the horn (measures 166-260 during the third movement) and the oboe (measures 348-372 during the fourth movement) in his Treatise on Orchestration. The symphony itself is Beethovens third (op. 55) and consists of four movements:
1. Allegro con brio
2. Marcia funebre. Adagio assai
3. Scherzo-Allegro vivace
4. Finale-Allegro molto
The Eroica Symphony and Napoleon BonaparteOriginally the work was to be titled the Bonaparte Symphony (New Groves), as a tribute to Napoleon Bonaparte, the French Consul who had begun to radically reform Europe after conducting sweeping military campaigns across the continent. In 1804, Napoleon crowned himself emperor, a move which angered Beethoven. As legend has it, the composer ripped through the title page and later renamed the symphony the Eroica because he refused to dedicate one of his pieces to the man he now considered a tyrant. Nevertheless, he still allowed the published manuscript to carry the inscription, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man, despite dedicating the work to Lobkowitz. This has led historians and biographers to speculate on Beethovens feelings towards Napoleon ever since.
The Eroica Symphony and Pop Culture
The Eroica-Napoleon link is recognized even today. Peter Conrad discussed Alfred Hitchcocks subconscious use of the symphony in his movie Psycho:
In Hitchcock's films, the most innocuous object can rear up threateningly. What could possibly be sinister about the record of Beethoven's Eroica, which Vera Miles finds on a gramophone turntable during her investigation of the Bates house? At the age of 13, I had no idea - though I felt an unmistakable chill when the camera peered into the gaping box to read the label of the silent disc. Now I think I know the answer. The symphony summarizes [sic] one abiding undercurrent of Hitchcock's work. It is about Napoleon, a man who - like many of Hitchcock's psychopaths - set himself up as a god, and it includes a funeral march for the toppled idol. It first rejoices in the hero's freedom from moral inhibitions, then recoils in dismay. Truffaut, detecting unease beneath the joviality of The Trouble with Harry, suggested that Hitchcock's films were afflicted by the mood Blaise Pascal analyzed [sic] - "the sadness of a world deprived of God".