John Clubbe's Narrative Rivalry: Beethoven, And Napoleon

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Before the French took over Vienna, Austria is probably when Beethoven began composing the Emperor. This concerto is considered “regal, imperial even”. This is exactly how Beethoven though of Napoleon, as well as himself. He saw both Napoleon and himself as “equally great, equally commanding”. John Clubbe describes perfectly in his article entitled “The Creative Rivalry with Beethoven and Napoleon” how the piano and interpretations relate back to Napoleon and his opinion of him: “WIth a courage and heroism of soul equal to Napoleon’s and with his chosen instrument, the piano, as protagonist, he would take the field against the Emperor. Programmatic interpretations of Beethoven’s composition are often problematic, but one for this work might…show more content…
Even though Beethoven did not bestow this name to his concerto, he did not deny the militaristic tone of the name. According to Clubbe, “without [the nickname], the Eb major of the concerto, the key of the Eroica, emanates a military tonality, an imperial timbre.” Napoleon and the Emperor both had a sense of sovereignty about them. “Even if Napoleon did not create that glorious world or ever realize that Beethoven had written the Eroica for (and perhaps about) him, so presumably he remained unaware of his role in the emergence of another work of supreme grandeur.” (Clubbe).
Napoleon did not appear in Vienna and this dissatisfied Beethoven. He began wondering if his C Minor Mass “could perhaps be dedicated to Napoleon” (Solomon, Beethoven 182). In April of 1809, Napoleon married Marie Louise, daughter of Emperor Franz. This matrimony was a very popular one amongst the Austrians. Emperor Franz held up the position of the “oldest monarchy in Europe” at the time and the “crowned adventurer” finally received a recommendation. His career had climaxed. After this, unfortunately, a critical time began for Beethoven and Napoleon in 1812. Napoleon guided the Grande Armee out of Russia. While he had sustained this leaving, he was too late and the retreat was a catastrophe, indicating the end was nigh. Beethoven’s work halted while the Emperor’s idolization was lessening

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