Op. 55, in E-flat Major
Composed in 1803
First Public Performance: April 7, 1805
at the Theater-an-der-Wien
Dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz
Published in 1806 in Vienna


Title Page


At the end of our section on the Second Symphony, in its transition towards the Third Symphony, we referred to the invitation of the reviewer of the Leipzig  Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung who, at the end of his October 1806 review of the Second Symphony, expressed the hope that Beethoven's meanwhile completed Third Symphony should be published, very soon. 

However, in embarking on our journey through all aspects of the creation of Beethoven's Third Symphony, we should refrain from anticipating events and should, in our minds, return to the year 1802, the year of the composition of the Second Symphony.  As we know, the month of October of this year also saw the writing of Beethoven's very likely most well-known non-musical "work", the so-called "Heiligenstadt Will". 

With respect to the connection of this document to the year 1802 and to Beethoven's Third Symphony, Klaus Kropfinger writes: 

"Das hohe spezifische Biografie-Gewicht des >Heiligenstädter Testaments< hat die Forschung als ein Erklärung verlangendes Phänomen vielfach hervorgehoben.  Im Zentrum steht die Spannung zwischen Text und kompositorischem Umfeld, spezifischer:  Die Frage nach einer möglichen Relation zu bestimmten Kompositionen des zeitlichen Umkreises, ein Aspekt, den eindeutiger zu bestimmen freilich schwerfällt.  Besonders betont hat man den Schatten-Licht-Kontrast, der zwischen der Stimmungslage des Textes und einer durchhellten Komposition wie der Zweiten Symphonie besteht.   (TDR, Bd. 2, S. 335); Solomon sieht in dem Text >>the literary prototype of the Eroica Symphony<< (M. Solomon 1977, S. 121) . . . " (Kropfinger: 106; --

-- Kropfinger discusses here the high specific biographical weight of the "Heiligenstadt Will" and its having been mentioned in that context as a phenomenon that requires further explanation.  Kropfinger maintains that at the center of this issue lies a tension between this text and its compositional environment, and more specifically, he describes this as the question of a possible relationship to certain compositions that Beethoven had written during this time, an aspect that he finds hard to determine more precisely.  He mentions that, in the past, there has been noted the contrast of light and shadow that appears to exist between the "Heiligenstadt Will" text and a composition as bright as that of the Second Symphony.  He also refers to Solomon's considering the text >>the literary prototype of the Eroica Symphony<<).

While Kropfinger first refers to a possible contrast between the "dark" text of the "Will" and the "bright" compositions Beethoven wrote during this time, with his reference to Solomon's consideration of the Heiligenstadt Will as the literary prototype of the Third Symphony, Kropfinger also establishes a direct connection to this work. 

However, is this approach the only approach that offers itself for the exploration of the topic of the "Eroica"?

Instead of discussing further possibilities here at length, we would like to invite you to take a look at the outline of our section on the Third Symphony, that follows below.  It has been designed to provide to you, at a glance, a first impression of our awareness of the wealth of this topic.  

By clicking on the images below, you can reach each respective sub-section.  We would recommend that you proceed as outlined below, by advancing through each table row, from left to right.  At the end of each sub-section, you will have the opportunity to either advance to the next sub-section or to return to this start page.  With all that we are offering you here, we wish you a great deal of reading enjoyment and a great time of discoveries!  


Conceptual Genesis

Creation History and Chronology of  Beethoven's Life Circumstances  1802-1804)

Musical Genesis

History of its First Performance

Beethoven's Life Circumstances
(1804 - 1806)

On its Publication and 'Actual' Dedication

Reception History

Further Performances During Beethoven's Life Time 

On its Musical Content

Music Criticism


Interesting Links

This is where our journey through the history of the creation of Beethoven's Symphonies No. I - III ends for the time being, while this section already offers you an extensive look at the history of the development of the idea to the "Ode to Joy" and the Ninth Symphony.  It can be accessed via the link on the menu bar to the left.  We hope that we will be able to continue our journey through the history of the creation of Beethoven's Symphonies No. IV - VIII, in the near future.  Until then!