Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Beethoven's 'Emperor'

Ludwig Van Beethoven [1770 - 1827]
The greatest piano concerto ever written, in my opinion, is Ludwig Van Beethoven's 5th piano concerto in E-flat Major, known as "The Emperor".  Beethoven's music crossed two great eras of the masters, the classical and the romantic.  Beethoven's Emperor piano concerto exuded romanticism through and through. It is truly one of the great Romantic pieces-not just as a piano concerto, but of all genres of classical music. 

The long mesmerizing first movement, allegro, is majestic in stature.  There have been studies that have showed that listening to a piece by Mozart in the background increases ones concentration and brain power.  I think that is also very true of the first movement of Beethoven's 5th piano concerto.  

In most classical concertos you hear a long tutti by the orchestra, in the first movement, before the soloist comes in; but in Beethoven's Emperor concerto, after a loud chord by the orchestra, the  pianist immediately comes in with gusto [Beethoven is letting the orchestra know who is in charge of this concerto].  This pattern happens three times before Beethoven finally allows the orchestra to give their long introduction [before the soloist comes in again].  There is an extended recapitulation of the exposition that is split with a short cadenza before the strong ending to the movement.

The second movement, Adagio un poco mosso, is one of the great romantic movements ever composed in the concerto repertoire.  This slow movement is so moving and beautiful. There is no break between the second and final movement but rather a bridge connecting the slow romantic second movement with the exciting finale rondo movement.

The third movement, Rondo: Allegro ma non troppo, is a perfect ending to an epic piano concerto.  As I said, the lead in to the third movement is a soft slow bridge from the second, culminating with an explosive, exciting statement by the soloist as the third movement begins.  Just as in the beginning of the concerto, the final movement is taken over by the soloist before the entrance of the orchestra.  This positive movement ends with a definitive triumphant conclusion.

Anyone listening to this concerto at the concert hall or on a recording will know they have just listened to greatness.

Please play in full screen and turn up the volume and listen to the great Emperor from "the master" Beethoven.  This You-Tube video has virtuoso soloist Krystian Zimerman performing with the Wiener Philharmoniker [sic] led by the late legendary Maestro Leonard Bernstein.

Note: the beautiful second movement begins at the 21:23 mark, and the energetic third movement rondo begins at the 30:33 mark.

L.V. Beethoven: Piano Concerto #5 in E-flat Major, The Emperor:

Please enjoy this Tales classical music bonus chamber music piece by Beethoven - his Octet for winds in Eb Major.  This pleasant piece is scored for 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 horns and 2 bassoons and it has four movements:  
1. Allegro, 2. Andante, 3. Minuet - Trio, and 4. Presto. 

L.V. Beethoven: Octet in E flat Major for Winds:


bradley said...

The genius of the pianist is obvious but to play the whole piece from memory without music--- wow

Big Mike said...

That takes years and years of hard work brother - and that is why they are professional virtuosos. Just the same way as you as a professional doctor can amaze me with a diagnosis by memory from one of the hundreds of medical books you had to study. Both of you are amazing to me. :-)

Unknown said...

Two years ago, I drove into a fire hydrant at a parking lot. I started the engine of my car, so did the concerto from my CD player, so I turned it up as loud as I can. (As I usually do) I got so high from the music, I didn't even see the fire hydrant in front of me and just ran into it. The whole front bumper fell off and crushed of my brand new BMW. I drove home 15 miles an hour for 10 mile through the hailstorm still blasting my absolute favorite concerto in the entire universe, the Emperor!

Big Mike said...

Wow, what a story. Glad you made it home safely. Sorry to hear about your BMW. BTW, it's my favorite concerto too!!!

Unknown said...

Beethoven is also my the favorite composer!!! (my iphone cover proves it! ;-)) Thank you so much for the article!

Big Mike said...

You're very welcome. Hmm, I don't know why I thought it might be J.S. Bach :-)))

eurobird said...

You just can't hear it enough, come hail or water hydrant your way :))

Big Mike said...

Amen to that eurobird!!!