Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, probably on December 16, 1770 (he was baptized on the 17th), and died in Vienna, Austria, on March 26, 1827.
He composed his Three Equali for Four Trombones (WoO 30) by November 2, 1812, at latest, in Linz, Austria. They were doubtless first played on that date, for the celebration of All Souls’ Day in Linz. The Three Equali were first performed by members of the San Francisco Symphony, led by Pierre Monteux, in January 1938 in a performance dedicated to Maurice Ravel, who had died the previous December. The last performance of the complete set was in a June 1979 chamber concert. Performance time: about five minutes.
Beethoven composed his song cycle An die ferne Geliebte, for voice and piano, in April 1816, to poems by Alois Jeitteles, and dedicated the cycle to Prince Joseph Franz Maximilian von Lobkowitz. We lack information about the early performance history. The first and only other performance of An die ferne Geliebte at San Francisco Symphony concerts was in June 1981 with tenor Paul Sperry and pianist Irma Vallecillo. Performance time: about fifteen minutes.
The Symphony No. 4 was composed in the summer and early autumn of 1806, and it was premiered the following March when the composer led it in a private performance in the Vienna home of Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz, in a concert that also included the premieres of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Piano Concerto No. 4. The work is dedicated to Count Franz von Oppersdorff, who purchased certain rights to the early performance of this symphony if he did not literally commission it. The first North American performance was given on November 24, 1849, by the New York Philharmonic Society, Theodor Eisfeld conducting. Alfred Hertz led the first San Francisco Symphony performances in March 1916, and the most recent performances here were given in January 2011 under the direction of Marek Janowski. The work is scored for flute, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, and strings. Performance time: about thirty minutes.
In the annals of Beethoven, 1812 was most significantly the year in which he completed his Symphony No. 7 (on April 13) and Symphony No. 8 (the fair copy of which he dated that October). Another important masterwork also emerged that year, his Violin Sonata in G major, Opus 96; the publication Musikalische Zeitung für die österreichischen Staaten (Musical Newspaper for the Austrian States), issued by Franz Xaver Glöggl in the Austrian city of Linz, reported that the sonata was unveiled on December 29 at the Vienna home of Beethoven’s patron Prince Lobkowitz. Apart from those, Beethoven’s compositions of 1812 are considerably less imposing: a half-dozen arrangements of Irish airs, a standalone Allegretto for piano trio (WoO 39), a humorous canon (“Ta ta ta”) evoking the measured clicks of a forebear to the metronome, and one of the most curious items in his entire catalogue, the Three Equali for Four Trombones (WoO 30).
The Equali also relate to Mr. Glöggl (1764-1839), who was music director at Linz Cathedral when Beethoven visited that town in October and early November of 1812. Beethoven was paying a visit to his brother Johann, six years his junior, and he was playing the role of a busybody. Johann, who was a pharmacist, had moved to Linz in 1808 to open his own apothecary shop overlooking the Danube. He lived in the same building, unmarried but in cohabitation with the object of his affection, who already had an illegitimate daughter from an earlier liaison. As Alexander Wheelock Thayer explained in his indispensable Life of Ludwig van Beethoven: “She, Therese Obermeyer, was described as possessing a very graceful and finely proportioned figure, and a pleasing, though not beautiful, face. Johann van Beethoven . . . became acquainted with her, liked her, and made her his housekeeper and—something more.” Ludwig was shocked, and hurried off to Linz. Wrote Thayer, “The principal object of the journey thither was to interfere in Johann’s domestic affairs.” A good deal of fraternal friction predictably ensued. Ludwig appealed to civil and ecclesiastical authorities to expunge this immoral blot from the city, and, Thayer reported, “He pushed the affair so earnestly, as at last to obtain an order to the police to remove the girl to Vienna if, on a certain day, she should still be found in Linz.” Johann, however, played a trump card: on November 8, he married Therese and formally adopted the daughter. “He lost the game,” said Thayer of Ludwig, “and immediately hastened away to Vienna, angry and mortified that the measures he had taken had led to the very result which he wished to prevent; had given the unchaste girl the legal right to call him ‘brother,’ and had put it in Johann’s power—should he in the future have cause to rue his wedding-day—to reproach him as the author of his misfortune.” That is indeed what happened when the marriage went sour a few years later, although the Beethoven brothers did somewhat reconcile beginning in about 1822.
There was at least musical compensation for this reproachful episode. While Ludwig was in Linz he struck up a friendship with Glöggl, who was a central figure in the city’s musical life. Named Capellmeister (music director) at the Linz Cathedral in 1797, he was also active in town as a conductor, theater manager, and proprietor of a music store. Young Tobias Haslinger, who hailed from nearby, studied with Glöggl at the cathedral and worked in his shop before moving to Vienna, where he became a close friend of Beethoven’s and published many of his scores. On top of everything else, Glöggl found time to publish the Musikalische Zeitung,which on October 5, 1812, ran this notice: Now we have had the long wished-for pleasure of having within our metropolis for several days the Orpheus and greatest composer of our time, Herr L. van Beethoven; and if Apollo is favorably disposed toward us we shall also have the opportunity to admire his art and report upon it to the readers of this journal.”
Many years later, F.X. Glöggl’s son, Franz, set down his reminiscence of that time:
Beethoven was on intimate terms of friendship with my father, capellmeister of the cathedral of Linz, and when he was there in 1812, he was at our house every day and several times took meals with us. My father asked him for an Aequale for six trombones as in his collection of old instruments he had a soprano and a quart trombone, whereas only alto, tenor and bass trombones were commonly used. Beethoven wanted to hear an Aequale such as was played at funerals in Linz, and one afternoon when Beethoven was expected to dine with us, my father appointed three trombone players and had them play an Aequale as desired, after which Beethoven sat down and composed one for six trombones, which my father had his trombonists play.
Franz Glöggl’s memory must have been close but not spot-on, as Beethoven’s Equali employ four trombones rather than six, in the disposition of two alto trombones, tenor trombone, and bass trombone—not using either the soprano or quart trombones in his father’s collection (the quart being pitched a fourth below the standard tenor trombone). The circumstances were further described by Glöggl’s pupil and Beethoven’s friend Tobias Haslinger, who stated that “Mr. Glöggl [asked Beethoven] to compose for him so-called Equale for four trombones for All-Souls’ Day (November 2nd), which he would then have his musicians play, as was usual, on this feast—Beethoven declared himself willing; he actually wrote three movements for this purpose, which are indeed short, but which, through the excellence of their design, attest to the master’s hand.”
Glöggl Senior may have originated the term in the sense it is used here, to describe a mourning piece played by an ensemble of similar instruments. In 1828, he published a volume titled Kirchenmusik-Ordnung (Church Music Regulations) in which he has this to say about Austrian funerals: “At [funerals] of the first category, upon the arrival of the clergy a short funeral music (Equale) with trombones or other wind instruments is played to announce the beginning of the funeral service to those in attendance; following its completion the funeral procession commences, this also being accompanied by wind funeral music.” One does not need to stretch far to reach from a funeral service to an All Souls’ Day service, which commemorates all the deceased at once. Such pieces were apparently specific to Austria, and especially to Linz. Apart from Beethoven’s, the only other equale we are likely to encounter today are those composed (again for trombone ensembles) by two composers from Linz: Wenzel Lambel (who wrote ten, for three or four trombones) and Anton Bruckner (who produced two, for three trombones).
It is a commonplace that composers have often used trombones to underpin musical depictions of death and the underworld. There are many famous examples of this, including the scene in Hades in Monteverdi’s Orfeo (1607), Schütz’s brooding motet “Fili mi Absalon” (1629), Bach’s Cantata No. 118 (a funeral cantata), Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice (1762), and Mozart’s Requiem (1791). And yet, it is curious that early music dictionaries, encyclopedias, and instrument treatises almost universally fail to mention such a connection. The instrument seems to have been viewed as a purveyor of a more general solemnity, not just of the funereal sort. In 1811, Joseph Fröhlich published (in Beethoven’s natal city of Bonn) an encyclopedic treatise on playing all manner of musical instruments (Vollständige theoretisch-praktische Musikschule) in which he says this about the trombone: “Its full, solemn tone . . . exalts it to an especially useful musical tool. Its full, sonorous tone enables the player to express all noble and effective sentiments for the exhibition and maintenance of the most solemn states of mind.”
Beethoven’s Equali seem custom-made to illustrate Fröhlich’s description. They are short pieces; the first comprises fifty measures, the second only thirty-eight, the third a mere sixteen. All are solemn and hymn-like, but the first, an Andante in D minor, is the most doleful. It is the only one that incorporates much in the way of independently flowing lines, and it is the most carefully crafted of the group, its score making expressive use of carefully shaded dynamics and articulation. The second (Poco Adagio, in B-flat major, marked dolce in the score) and third (Poco sostenuto, in D major) are almost entirely homophonic
Beethoven holds a place of honor in the history of the trombone, as he was the first major composer to employ it in the orchestration of symphonies, beginning with his Symphonies No. 5 and 6, written mostly in 1807-08. There is accordingly some poetic justice in the fact that these works were put to use for Beethoven’s own obsequies. Haslinger continued his account, in the third person:
As now, on the morning of 26th March 1827, not a doubt remained that the impending loss was all too near, indeed inevitable, Mr. Haslinger went with this manuscript to Capellmeister Mr. von Seyfried in order to discuss the possibility of forming a choral anthem out of these Equali to the words of the Miserere, and thus to escort the mortal remains of our prince of composers to eternal peace to the mournful sounds of his own creations. After close examination of the relic, Mr. von Seyfried agreed to this idea, and immediately set to work, which then, since at six o’clock nature had already reclaimed its property, was finished yet that same night. This composition was now employed here in double fashion: first, the original melody (transposed a tone lower, however, to make it easier for the vocalists) played by the four trombonists, then the chorale, set to the words of the penitential psalm Miserere mei, Deus, intoned by the aforesaid sixteen singers, and continued thus in alternation by stanza until the arrival at the church.
Indeed, a watercolor of Beethoven’s funeral, painted by Franz Stöber, shows four trombonists leading the funeral procession. In 1832, the music historian William Gardner wrote in the chapter on trombones in his book The Music of Nature: “At the funeral of Beethoven by torch light, when composers, musicians, poets, actors, singers, and choristers, assisted in carrying him to the grave, in the presence of twenty thousand spectators, the invocation of these terrific instruments was heard responding to the voices in the following dark train of harmony, from a composition of that sublime genius”—after which he quotes the third of the Equali in its entirety. Ignaz von Seyfried’s settings—using the Miserere for the first of the Equali, the text Amplius lava me for the third—were soon published in their vocal versions. The second also had a text fitted to it shortly thereafter, reportedly by the poet Franz Grillparzer, and that was performed on March 29, 1828, at the dedication of Beethoven’s gravestone in the Währinger Cemetery in what was then a suburb of Vienna.
Beethoven’s exalted niche in posterity derives in great degree from his large-scale compositions—symphonies, string quartets, piano trios, sonatas—and even to what we might call “super-sized” pieces like his Ninth Symphony and his Missa solemnis. A particular casualty of this viewpoint is that many of his less imposing works suffer from underexposure, and in this category probably no genre is so overlooked as his songs. In fact, he was an avid song composer throughout his career, producing his earliest two in 1783 and 1784 (they were published those same years), just as he entered his teenage years, and writing his last in January 1823, four years before he died. About eighty songs for solo voice and piano pepper his catalogue, making solo songs his second-largest body of work (in terms of individual number of pieces), trailing his 179 folk song arrangements for voice and piano trio. Only a handful of his songs are performed with any regularity today. Many went unpublished during his lifetime, and accordingly carry the posthumous catalogue designation WoO (Werke ohne Opuszahl, or “Work without Opus Number)—sometimes, but not invariably, the domain of unremarkable works. In the case of Beethoven’s output of songs, precious nuggets lurk therein.
Another issue that has doubtless worked against Beethoven’s songs is that they are not by Schubert. Franz Schubert (1797-1828) appeared in the generation following Beethoven, though he died so young that he survived the older master by less than two years. His songs, which number beyond 600, defined the expectations and set the standards for the extraordinary art-song tradition that enrolled through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For the most part, Beethoven’s songs seem to be leading to Schubert but not yet arrived. They are a bridge connecting the song practices of the Classical era with those of the Romantics. Still, if one item in Beethoven’s corpus of lieder does seem to break through practically to Schubertian ideals, it is the cycle An die ferne Geliebte, composed in April 1816 and published six months later. Certainly the poetic imagery of mist-shrouded hills, pensive forests, glowing twilight, and silent lakes summons up a sort of proto-Romanticism, as do the overarching themes of longing, melancholy, and unobtainable love, even though they are viewed through the lens of Beethoven’s inherent hopefulness.
It was not a novel idea to group songs into sets unified through some means. A number of song collections based on lyrics of a single author appeared during the 18th century, for example, and in 1803, Beethoven himself composed a set of six songs to poems by Christian Fürchtegott Gellert, religious poems that were a bit old hat by that time but may have consoled him as he confronted the erosion of his hearing just then (as documented in his desperate Heiligenstadt Testament of October 1802). An die ferne Geliebte, however, represents a breakthrough in idea and realization at an entirely different level. It is the first-ever song cycle, in the sense we have come to understand that term, a set of songs that maintain their individuality even as they are molded into an indissoluble sequence that is greater than the sum of the parts.
It, too, may have had an autobiographical genesis. Its very name, which means “To the Distant Beloved,” has invited speculation that it involves some failed love affair of Beethoven’s, and particularly that it connects to the passionate letter he penned (and perhaps never sent) while at a spa in Teplitz, Bohemia, on July 6-7, 1812, to an unidentified woman he addressed as the “Immortal Beloved.” The list of Beethoven’s romantic infatuations is long—his friend and early biographer Franz Gerhard Wegeler observed that “Beethoven was never out of love”—but current speculation favors the idea that the “Immortal Beloved” was Antonie Brentano, wife of a prosperous businessman. The Brentanos crossed paths with Beethoven during that summer of 1812, and the composer kept in touch with them for years. On February 6, 1816, for example, two months before composing An die ferne Geliebte, Beethoven wrote to Antonie: “I recall to my mind with pleasure the hours I spent in the company of both of you, which are the most unforgettable of my life.” It is perhaps not irrelevant that Beethoven presented her with the autograph of his similarly named standalone song “An die Geliebte” (To the Beloved), WoO 140, in late 1811 or early 1812, though he also gave her other manuscripts at about the same time. (Actually, An die ferne Geliebte is the name of the cycle as published; the title Beethoven actually wrote on the manuscript was An die entfernte Geliebte, with entfernte suggesting that the Beloved has moved to a distant place, but was not formerly far away. And the image of a “distant beloved” makes quite a few appearances within Beethoven’s oeuvre apart from this cycle.) Still the conceptual distance from “An die Geliebte” to An die ferne (or entfernte) Geliebte is slight indeed, and there is no question that unrequited love was on Beethoven’s mind around the time he composed the cycle. On May 8, 1816, just after completing the score, he concluded a letter to his friend Ferdinand Ries with this sentiment: “My best greetings to your wife. Unfortunately I have no wife. I have found only one whom no doubt I shall never possess. Yet I am not on that account a woman-hater.”
An die ferne Geliebte is an assemblage of six songs that set poems by Alois Isidor Jeitteles (1794-1858). By the time he wrote them, Jeitteles had studied medicine in Prague and his native Brno, and in 1816 he was taking medical classes in Vienna. He would go on to a career that embraced both medicine and the literary arts (as a poet, translator, and editor). These were the only texts by Jeitteles that Beethoven would ever set, although shortly after the composer died, Jeitteles penned a poem titled “Beethovens Begräbnis” (Beethoven’s Burial), which Ignaz von Seyfried (who we met in connection with the Three Equale) turned into a musical setting, lifting music for the purpose from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in A-flat major, Opus 26—specifically, from its third movement, which Beethoven designated Marcia funebre sulla morte d’un eroe (Funeral March on the Death of Hero). But of course Beethoven had nothing to do with Seyfried’s setting.
The individual songs of An die ferne Geliebte cannot be extracted for individual performance as they are linked by interludes for the solo piano, which massage the passage from one to the next. The cycle unrolls in a near symmetry of harmonic balance: the first and sixth songs are in E-flat major, the starting point and the destination; the third and fourth songs are in A-flat (perhaps Beethoven viewed these as a single bipartite song, since their accompaniments are closely related); and the intervening second and fifth are, respectively, in contrasting G major and C major. But the most striking element to impose unity on this work is that the opening music returns near the end of the sixth song, at first solemnly but then energized to a point of ecstasy. Beethoven’s work on this cycle is documented through extensive sketches, which share a sketchbook with another piece that marks the transition from his middle to late style, the A major Piano Sonata, Opus 101. From these we learn that the sighing or weeping interval of a descending sixth, which we find in the opening line on the word spähend (“peering” or “gazing”), was a late inspiration, as was the memorable text-setting of the third song in short notes breathlessly separated by rests.
This first true song cycle opened the door to analogous explorations among Beethoven’s followers. Schubert did not follow this model, casting his cycles Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise as narrative sequences that do not employ specific musical recall. Beethoven’s prototype was, however, taken up by Robert Schumann, who put musical reminiscence to potent use in his Frauenliebe und -leben and Dichterliebe, as well as in such cyclic works as his piano suite Carnaval. What’s more, Schumann acknowledged his debt to An die ferne Geliebte directly in his C major Fantasie for Piano, Opus 17, in which he quotes a phrase that Beethoven had attached to the opening of the final song, for the words “Nimm sie hin denn, diese Lieder” (Accept these songs, then). Schumann’s tribute was doubly appropriate in that he planned to donate part of his profits from the piece to a committee raising funds to build a Beethoven monument in Bonn. He originally titled his work Obolen auf Beethovens Monument: Ruinen, Trophäen, Palmen (Small Contribution to Beethoven’s Monument: Ruins, Trophies, Palms), changed the name to just Fantasie by the time it was published, in 1839. Schumann’s Fantasie carried a dedication to Franz Liszt, who would go on to become the single largest donor to the monument campaign and to create further tribute (in 1849) in the form of a transcription for piano solo of Beethoven’s masterly cycle.
Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony is probably the least frequently performed of his nine symphonies, which reflects less on the work itself than on the other eight. If Beethoven’s Fourth had been written by one of the composer’s turn-of-the-century contemporaries—say, by Clementi or Dušek—it would be exalted as a supreme achievement of orchestral writing, towering above anything else in their catalogues. Viewed in the context of Beethoven’s corpus, listeners may be tempted to focus on what the Fourth Symphony is not, rather than on what it is.
What it is not, most immediately, is Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the Eroica, or Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, those two punch-packing, jaw-dropping exercises in superhuman grandeur and titanic power. Robert Schumann poetically captured the Fourth’s relationship to its neighbors when he called it “a slender Grecian maiden between two Nordic giants.” Berlioz viewed it as a return to an earlier sound-world. “Here,” he wrote, “Beethoven entirely abandons ode and elegy, in order to return to the less elevated and less somber, but not less difficult, style of the Second Symphony. The general character of this score is either lively, alert, and gay or of a celestial sweetness.” This symphony, then, reflects the Apollonian side of a composer whose Dionysian aspect generally finds broader popularity.
Beethoven was pressed for cash when he wrote his Fourth Symphony, trying to cover his own expenses as well as debts piled up by his relatives. Although he was accustomed to renting modest residences outside Vienna for his summers, he decided to forego that pleasure in 1806, though at the end of summer he headed with his patron Prince Lichnowsky to Silesia. During that journey, he and the prince paid a visit to Count Franz von Oppersdorff, who maintained a small private orchestra. Oppersdorff was so enthusiastic about music that he required everyone on his staff to play an instrument, and he was delighted to entertain Lichnowsky and Beethoven by having his musicians perform the composer’s Second Symphony. Musicological opinion used to hold that the count offered to commission a symphony, and Beethoven leapt at the chance. It seems more likely, however, that Beethoven had already completed the Fourth and that Oppersdorff offered to purchase rights to it. But if the Count’s orchestra played this music before its Vienna premiere, we have no record of such a performance. In any case, when Beethoven offered this piece to his publishers on September 3, he claimed it was essentially finished, and it seems that he wrote it not as work for hire, but simply because he wanted to.
Whatever its genesis, the Fourth Symphony seems to have given its composer little trouble. Few preliminary sketches exist, and those that do give no evidence of the agonizing experimentation and reworking often apparent in Beethoven’s drafts. Despite the progression of his debilitating deafness, Beethoven was on a compositional roll in 1806. His catalogue for the year is packed with masterpieces, including the three Razumovsky string quartets (Opus 59), the revised version of the opera that would evolve into Fidelio, the Violin Concerto, the Fourth Piano Concerto, and the Fourth and Fifth symphonies.
Following in the steps of Haydn (who in 1806 was still active but emphatically retired), Beethoven opens his Fourth Symphony with a hushed, introspective introduction, harmonically evasive but emphasizing the minor mode. Not everybody took delight in this opening when it was young. As distinguished a listener as the composer Carl Maria von Weber reviled it for not possessing enough notes to fill up the space it occupied. “Every quarter of an hour,” he complained sarcastically, “we hear three or four notes. It is exciting!” A listener encountering the piece for the first time would have every reason to expect that a work of tension, suspense, and mystery lay in store. But in an eight-measure passage—fortissimo and with the texture expanded to include the brilliance of trumpets and timpani—that embraces the end of the Adagio and the beginning of the Allegro vivace, a rapidly ascending scale figure cuts through the darkness and breaks apart, not unlike fireworks that fragment into sparkling shards. And suddenly we realize that the orchestra has embarked on what will be a thoroughly playful fast movement. It unrolls according to a succinct Classical method, with a “proper” second subject being introduced through a perky conversation among the bassoon, oboe, and flute. But we can rely on Beethoven to inject some unusual characterization. The movement’s development section boasts an irresistible overlay of a new song-likemelody in counterpoint above (or below, or around) the entries of the movement’s main theme. What’s more, the whole section spends a fair amount of time pretending that it is going to resolve to B-natural—so near to, but yet so far from, the true destination of B-flat, which is reached via a crescendo that grows out of a sudden hush.
The second movement also recalls Haydn through a recurrent rhythmic pattern, rather along the lines of the accompanying figures that pop up in that composer’s Symphonies No. 22 (The Philosopher) and 101 (The Clock). This pattern acts as both support of and foil to the tender melody that unrolls above it. At the middle of the movement stands an episode that the distinguished musical analyst Donald Francis Tovey called “one of the most imaginative passages anywhere in Beethoven.” Its unanticipated movement from an angry minor-key transformation of the principal theme to a delicate duet for violins alone is indeed extraordinary. The slow movement concludes with a coda in which the main theme is fragmented and distributed throughout the orchestra; and at the very end, the timpani intone the rhythmic underpinning of the opening, which, in retrospect, sounds as if it could have been a drum-beat all along.
In his third movement, Beethoven has already left the spirit of the Classical minuet in the dust, replacing it definitively with the high-energy scherzo. Dramatic cross-rhythms abound. An unaccustomed return to the trio for a second go-round expands the minuet’s standard three-part structure into a five-part ABABA form, although the final repetition of the A section is somewhat foreshortened. Beethoven apparently liked the balance achieved through this pattern, as he turned to it again in his Sixth and Seventh symphonies.
The scurrying opening theme of the last movement announces the perpetual-motion character that will pervade the finale. Before he reaches the end, the composer works in a last laugh or two. The development section keeps the audience wondering where everything is heading. Where it’s heading is where the movement’s main theme is expected to return for its concluding argument; but when we arrive there, the theme is stated not by the full orchestra but rather by a single bassoon, chortling a bit bumptiously through the flurry of rapid-fire sixteenth notes. The orchestra swoops in to pick up the tune and nearly makes it to the end before threatening to break down in exhaustion. A few instruments manage to whisper the theme at half its tempo—and then, with a final surge of energy and a few boisterous chords, Beethoven’s Fourth crosses the finish line buoyantly.
—James M. Keller
The note on the Symphony No. 4 originally appeared in different form in the program book of the New York Philharmonic and is reprinted with permission. Copyright © New York Philharmonic.
More About the Music
Recordings: For the Three Equali—Triton Trombone Quartet (BIS) | Philip Jones Brass Ensemble (Deutsche Grammophon) | On the album Four of a Kind, with Joseph Alessi, Scott A. Hartman, Mark H. Lawrence, and Blair Bollinger (Summit).
For An die ferne Geliebte—Tenor Fritz Wunderlich with pianist Heinrich Schmidt (Philips) | Baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in a live recital with Gerald Moore (Orfeo d’Or); also in a studio recording with Jörg Demus (Deutsche Grammophon) | Baritone Stephan Genz, with Roger Vignoles (Hyperion) | Baritone Christian Gerhaher with Gerold Huber (Sony Classical) | Baritone Wolfgang Holzmair with Imogen Cooper (Decca or Philips
For the Symphony—Karl Böhm conducting the Vienna Philharmonic (Deutsche Grammophon Eloquence) | Bruno Walter conducting the Columbia Symphony Orchestra (Sony) | Bernard Haitink conducting the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO Live) | Osmo Vänskä conducting the Minnesota Orchestra (BIS) | Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Teldec)
Reading: Beethoven, by Maynard Solomon (Schirmer Books) | Beethoven, by William Kinderman (University of California Press) | Beethoven: The Music and the Life, by Lewis Lockwood (W.W. Norton) | Beethoven, by Barry Cooper (Oxford, Master Musicians Series) | The Beethoven Compendium, edited by Barry Cooper (Thames and Hudson) | Thayer’s Life of Beethoven, in its most recent revision by Elliott Forbes (Princeton University Press) | Beethoven and his World: A Biographical Dictionary, by Peter Clive (Oxford)
DVD: Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony explore the composer and his world in Beethoven and the Eroica, part of our Keeping Score series (SFS Media). Also available at keepingscore.org.