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Perhaps the best reflection of these emotional extremes is the Second Movement, which he titled “Funeral March,” a powerful musical evocation of the massive state funerals then taking place in Paris.

The music suggests the thunder of drums and the roar of the crowd. In this movement, Beethoven explores grief, its public face and its intimate expression.

The oboe solo at the beginning is a personalized and interior expression of grief within a public ceremony. It’s a modern solo in that it has tremendous psychological dimension.

The music is evocative—we can almost see the funeral procession pass before us and ask, What really has died here? Perhaps it is part of Beethoven that is being mourned.

In the years before he wrote Eroica, Beethoven realized he was going deaf, and his initial reaction was terror and shame. He tried to keep it a secret. He couldn’t bear for anyone to know that he—a musician—was not able to hear.

But he came to realize that, as a musician, he could function perfectly well. What really scared him was being cut off from other people, losing the possibility of hearing intimate conversation.

What kind of strange, isolated, lonely, crazy individual was he in danger of becoming? That was the real terror.

As Beethoven’s personal crisis deepened in 1802, he took refuge in the village of Heiligenstadt. He hoped that the quiet of the countryside would bring relief to the distortions in his hearing. And he needed time to get himself together—to face the decision, literally, of whether to live or to die.

In Heiligenstadt, he wrote the most important document we have that reflects the turmoil in his life. The so-called Heiligenstadt Testament is a kind of last will, or possibly a suicide note.

It wasn’t meant to be read during his lifetime. But it reveals Beethoven’s state of mind just before he wrote Eroica. Somehow he found the strength to go on. In the works that follow the Heiligenstadt Testament, he inserted his humanity into the very fabric of the music.”

 

The second theme always gets me at 30:00.  Such struggle, fighting with inevitable fate, such majesty…  yeah.  There I go again. :>

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