All About Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven "Emperor" Concerto no.5 in E flat major for piano and orchestra op. 73


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Home>Beethoven Music>Piano Concerto No. 5 The Emperor Concerto

Piano Concerto No. 5

This concerto was finalized in 1809, about the same time as the famous sonata Appasionata op. 57. The powerful themes and heroic note of the composition, lead to the name Emperor for this concerto.

The name “Emperor” dates from Beethoven’s time but was not given by Beethoven himself. Since the composer had little regard for emperors, he would be unlikely to name one of his own works for a class of people he disliked. While evidence is not clear, it seems that the name was given by a close friend of Beethoven, German composer Johann Baptist Cramer.

The piano concerto has three parts:

  1. Allegro
  2. Adagio un poco mosso
  3. Rondo-Allegro

Part I – Allegro – is constructed like a sonata and starts with a cadence of the piano, suggesting man’s heroism. Only later, the orchestra presents the first theme.

Excerpt from Beethoven's Concerto No.5, Op. 73, Part I

After the introduction of the second theme, a dialogue is built up between the orchestra and the piano regarding the presented themes. The ending of the first movement renders the atmosphere given by the powerful rhythms and the ample sonorities of the ending of the first allegro in Symphony No. 3.

Part II – Adagio un poco mosso – starts with a silent presentation by the string instruments of an expressive theme, of great openness, and is followed by the piano with an extraordinarily melodic segment.

Excerpt from Beethoven's Concerto No.5, Op. 73, Part II

Part III – Rondo-Allegro – starts just before the end of the second part when the piano tunes the sounds of an arpeggio which will generate the theme of the rondo, so powerfully rendered by the solo instrument.

Excerpt from Beethoven's Concerto No.5, Op. 73, Part III

The new concerto was premiered in Leipzig in 1811. The solo part was not played by Beethoven since his hearing problems made any king of public performance impossible. The honor of playing the solo part for the premier went to young church organist Friedrich Schneider. When the “Emperor” premiered in Vienna – in February 1812 - the solo part was interpreted by Beethoven’s pupil and friend Carl Czerny.

Read more about Beethoven's Concertos
  1. Piano Concerto no. 1 in C major op. 15
  2. Piano Concerto no. 2 in B flat major op. 19
  3. Piano Concerto no. 3 in C minor op. 37
  4. Piano Concerto no. 4 in G major op. 58
  5. Piano Concerto no. 5 “Emperor” in E flat major op. 73
  6. Violin Concerto in D major op. 61
  7. Triple Concerto for piano, violin and cello in C major op. 56

Read more about Beethoven's music
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