Beethoven – Overture in C major Namensfeier (Name Day) Op. 115

Overture in C major Namensfeier (Name Day) Op. 115 (1815)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

Beethoven was a great admirer of the German writer Friedrich Schiller. In 1824 he set Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy as the choral part of his Ninth Symphony, but this had its genesis 30 years earlier.  In 1814 Beethoven reworked the earlier Ode to Joy themes in a concert overture intended to open a concert for Emperor Franz I on his name day, from which Beethoven hoped to regain lost prestige. The overture, later known as the Namensfeier or Name Day  overture, wasn’t ready in time and was eventually premiered at a benefit concert in March the following year. It is dedicated to Prince Antoni Radziwitt, an amateur composer.

The prominent use of the horns led the French to nickname the work The Hunt, which Beethoven detested. It is almost banal at times, lacking the usual depth of Beethoven’s mid to later works. Compare it, for example, to the Eroica symphony from 10 years earlier. Consequently this so-called “overture for any occasion” was not a success, and is seldom performed today.

Performed: 23/3/2014, 30/3/2014

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