Overture to Egmont Op. 84 (1810)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
Immediately after the end of the French occupation of Vienna, the Vienna Burgtheater asked Beethoven to write the incidental music to their revival of Goethe’s tragedy, Egmont. The themes of Goethe’s play (an imprisoned hero, political ideals and resistance to tyranny) struck a chord with Beethoven and parallel those of his opera Fidelio dating from the same period. Count Egmont is a young, heroic nobleman seeking more moderate Spanish rule from the occupiers of 16th century Brussels, but is cruelly martyred. The text-dependent nine movements that follow the overture are seldom heard today, but the overture has become a popular favourite. It doesn’t seek to summarise the story of the play, but superbly captures the atmosphere of struggle and ultimate victory of the Netherlanders.
Performed 10 times from 1968 to 2002, March 2012, March 2016