In 1800, across the time of the premiere of his First Symphony, the 29-year-old Ludwig van Beethoven obtained a fee to jot down music for a ballet primarily based on the Prometheus delusion. Beethoven’s collaborator and librettist was the the Italian choreographer and dancer, Salvatore Viganò. Though Viganò often composed the music for his ballets himself, this event was far too vital. The Creatures of Prometheus, a “heroic and allegorical ballet” in two acts, can be offered to the Archduchess Maria Theresa on the Vienna Court docket Theatre (Burgtheater).
To Beethoven’s disappointment, the situation omitted the extra dramatic components of the Prometheus story, wherein the Titan and supreme trickster steals hearth to present to humanity in defiance of the gods and is sentenced by Zeus to everlasting torment on a rock frequented by a hungry eagle. Viganò thought of this a part of the story to be too edgy for an aristocratic viewers. The next synopsis appeared within the handbill for the ballet’s first efficiency on March 28, 1801:
The Greek philosophers describe Prometheus as a lofty soul who discovered the folks of his time in ignorance, refined them by way of science and the humanities, and gave them manners, customs, and morals. Because of that conception, two statues which were dropped at life are launched into the ballet, and these by means of the facility of concord, are made receptive to all of the passions of human existence. Prometheus leads them to Parnassus, so that Apollo… might enlighten them. Apollo offers them as lecturers Amphion, Orion, and Orpheus for music; Melpomene to show them tragedy; Terpsichore and Pan the Shepherds’ dances; and Bacchus the heroic dance.
The Creatures of Prometheus ran efficiently for 28 performances. But, one influential critic discovered Beethoven’s music to be “too intellectually demanding” for ballet, and never appropriate for dancing. Beethoven supplied sixteen numbers for the ballet, together with a finale which might later kind the premise of the theme-and-variations last motion of the Eroica Symphony.
The Overture stays the rating’s most often-performed music. It begins with arresting chords which land with the power of Zeus’ thunderbolts. As with the opening of the First Symphony, these chords kind a looking out cadence which arrives out of nowhere. The Adagio introduction continues as a heat, majestic march, propelled by solemn timpani beats. Out of the blue, the Allegro molto con brio (“with a lot vigor”) springs to life with operating eighth notes within the violins. It’s exuberant, celebratory music which foreshadows the ballet’s last scenes. Full of wild, jagged accents and sudden dynamic modifications, the Prometheus Overture unfolds as an exhilarating, boisterous musical joyride.
Featured Picture: Prométhée enchaîné (Prometheus Certain), Nicolas-Sébastien Adam