Beethoven: Egmont Overture

In 1829 Beethoven received a commission to write incidental music for the Viennese Imperial Court production of Goethe’s drama the following year. Beethoven’s music consists of ten numbers, but it is only the Overture that has found a permanent place in our present day orchestral repertoire.

If the Overture is essentially in Sonata Form. The sombre opening F minor chord presages a rather heavy footed sarabande in 3/2 . This leads directly into the 3/4 Allegro with a flowing lyrical theme introduced by the cellos. The music proceeds to a climax when it is immediately stamped upon by the opening theme and which is interrupted by a rising four note motif in the woodwind.

The development ensues with an intensity engendered by the triplet string accompaniment until a short re-capitulation concluded by the violins descending interval of a fourth and pause. Out of this hiatus the 4/4 Allegro Con Brio gains power and it is this Allegro which forms the final number of the Incidental Music where it is entitled Siegessyphonic (Victory Symphony).