Beethoven (1770 - 1827)

“Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus”, ballet op.43 - Overture (5')

Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus (The Creatures of Prometheus), Op. 43 is a ballet, consisting of an overture and seventeen dances. Beethoven composed the work between 1800 and 1801, and its premiere took place in March 1801 at the Burgtheater in Vienna. It is a long composition and takes nearly an hour to perform. Today, however, a concert-goer would rarely have an opportunity to hear the entire piece being played in concert. Its overture, on the other hand is favored by both musicians and audience alike and is frequently performed. Detaching the overture from the rest of the composition is not at all an awkward practice. Much of it, after all sounds quite unrelated to the plot of the ballet.

After the overture, Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus opens with a brief introduction that depicts a fiery storm. The movement symbolizes the Greek god Prometheus and his actions described in Greek mythology (Prometheus created man from clay and gave fire to humanity).

Beethoven seems to have liked the music he set to the ballet; he reused some of its thematic materials for his later compositions. The main melody of the finale of the ballet, for instance, was adopted into the composer’s Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat major, Op. 35 (The Eroica Variation ). This keyboard piece itself served as the basis for the final movement of Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55 Eroica .

[Akira Ishii]