Liberty, sacrifice and charming madness

Liberty - painted in 1830 by the French painter Eugène Delacroix
Liberty painted in 1830 by the French painter Eugène Delacroix.

On July 14 last year, I wrote about Ludwig van Beethoven’s initial admiration for Napoleon Bonaparte and how he gradually became more and more disenchanted by the French emperor as Napoleon set up a repressive regime and conquered most of the European continent. Thus his third symphony was not dedicated to Napoleon, but to one of his patrons. Beethoven’s anger at Bonaparte went so far that he composed an anti-Napoleon pro-freedom piece: the incidental music for Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s play “Egmont”. Op. 84 saw the light in 1809/10 and consists of an overture, followed by a sequence of nine pieces for soprano and orchestra. A very special and most enthralling work.

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