[ 2 ] Oh, Bernstein on Beethoven’s “Eroica”

And so, it metastasizes. This ineluctable concept-listening disease…

Since that listening of the final movement of Mahler’s First Symphony, I fell into study this eveningof just Beethoven’s opening movement from the Eroica. By all accounts this is the symphony that forever changed classical music: Eroica made it about the ego, the aggrieved and the mourning hero, funereal yet triumphant, going deaf all along. Promethean Me.

I do prefer the muscular and the mad in Bernstein’s Beethoven, especially in this one.

Movement Two: From the Funereal March

Accchhhhh.. the Third and Fourth! Such Austro-German dionyseanism. (Terrible expression.)

I am not in any way knowledgeable about music or musical theory. I will not pretend to any authority. But in studying this symphony recently — really listening to it, after so many years never touching it, it comes back to me how greater this might ever be than Mahler. And that’s a really really hard thing to hear myself say. Just this one piece — the Eroica. This feeling is emerging, having never thought that Mahler’s understanding of our modern human mind could maybe never be surpassed. And hearing this Eroica again.

This whole thing, this symphony — this madness, this rage, this playfulness, this bold triumph of the Will. This piece, itself, made Mahler even happen, I realise just now. I had not noticed the strong funeral-march-to-deep-question-to-triumph link before. This symphony let Mahler happen, and let him happen with such brutality right from the beginning. Like we expected it. But we’re bystanders in a funeral march again, the funeral march we are engaged in since the moment of birth.

Enjoy these performances.