Who Died? The Funeral March in Beethoven's Eroica Symphony

Steblin, Rita
March 2006
Musical Quarterly;Spring2006, Vol. 89 Issue 1, p62
Academic Journal
The article discusses the theories on the identity of the hero being mourned in Beethoven's Third Symphony, the Eroica. Eroica, especially its second movement, "Marcia Funebre", is said to have engaged the public interest. Walther Brauneis theorizes that it is an allusion to Bonaparte's heroic army. Peter Schleuning believes that it is for Prussian Prince Louis Ferdinand, who has heroically died fighting Napoleon's troops. Many other candidates for the hero's identity are presented, including psychological theories, such as Romain Rolland's belief that it is a depiction of Beethoven's struggles with deafness. The author concludes that Eroica is a means for Beethoven to impress Napoleon, but the identity of the dead hero is still unknown.


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