Beethoven vs. Napoleon

Episode Air Date: September 29, 2016
Artist: Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra
Recording Title: Eroica

So impressed was Beethoven that when he composed his Symphony Number 3 in E Flat Major, he dubbed it “Bonaparte”. But as the story goes, he became enraged when Napoleon named himself Emperor of the French. Scratching out the title, he renamed it “Eroica”, Italian for “heroic”. You’re listening to Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra in a Victor recording from 1950.

Time seems to heal all wounds though…when Napoleon died in exile in the early 1820’s, Beethoven remarked that he had “already composed the proper music for that catastrophe”, a nod to the Symphony that once bore the man’s name.

Fans of historical trivia, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, remember Napoleon as a little guy. (Napoleon was 5’6, Beethoven 5’5) Why the confusion? Check out our blog at soundbeat.org right now!

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