Academic journal article The Beethoven Journal

To the Editor

Academic journal article The Beethoven Journal

To the Editor

Article excerpt

Professor John Clubbe drew my attention to William Meredith's brilliant article on the genesis of Beethoven's theme for his Eroica Variations. Steibelt caught my attention years ago; his biography is as interesting as the pieces of his music I have read. Together with the pianist Daniel Propper, I selected a piano program that covers the "Napoleonic" years, 1800-1815, during which Steibelt played a central role on both "political" sides, first as a "supporter" (with the Grand Sonata dedicated to Madame Bonaparte) and last as an opponent (with The Destruction of Moscow). Daniel Propper recorded this program as a double CD entitled Echoes of the Battlefields, for which I wrote the historical and musical commentary.

On page 30, paragraph IV, Meredith wrote: "Westerby's account is the only one I am aware of that suggests Beethoven's improvisations that day were the origins of the Eroica Variations." I would like to draw one possible source for Herbert Westerby's assertion to your attention.

Joseph d'Ortigue (1802-1866), the serious and precise music critic, friend of Berlioz and active in Paris from the end of the 1820s until his death in 1866, gives us a full account of the anecdote of the Beethoven-Steibelt improvisation contest in an article of the Revue de Paris, dated April 17,1836, in which he explains that it is the origin of the "Finale of the Eroica Symphony. …

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