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Symphonies Piano Music for the Violin Triple Concerto Chamber music Fidelio - Leonore - Prometheus Works for choir Others

Leonore and Fidelio Leonore and Fidelio: list The Creatures of Prometheus Other stage music

Title The ballet the “Creatures of Prometheus”: presentation

Beethoven only wrote twice for the ballet: the first time at Bonn in 1791, when he composed the music for a “Ballet of Knights” (“Ritterballet”), WoO 1. This work, which does not exceed 15 minutes, is virtually never played, and little recorded.

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The music for “The Creatures of Prometheus” (“Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus”) was composed between 1800-1801, under the request of Salvatore VIGANO, master of the ballet in Vienna.

The first performance of the ballet took place on 28th March 1801 at the Hofburg Theater in Vienna. It was a great success and had 16 consecutive performances in the first year.

The orchestration comprises:
2 flutes, 2 oboes, 1 clarinet and 1 basset horn, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, a harp and strings (the harp in no. 5 – the basset horn in no. 14).

Beethoven made a transcription for piano the same year.

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Title “The Creatures of Prometheus”: structure of the work

A personal appreciation of the piece (by Daniel ACHACHE):
*** : exceptional piece;
** : remarkable work (like no. 8 which is the “true” Beethoven);
* : worth a listen.

- Overture in C ***
adagio – allegro molto con brio – around 4'30
This magnificent overture is linked to:
- The Tempest ***
allegro non troppo – 1'5
This section briefly prefigures the storm of the “Pastoral” symphony.

Following the 16 following sections (the timings are those for the version conducted by Herbig):

  • No. 1
    poco adagio-allegro non troppo * ( C ) - 2'58
    Questioning introduction then an allegro full of joy.

  • No. 2
    adagio – allegro con brio * (F) – 1'34
    solemn adagio / brilliant then dancing allegro

  • No. 3
    allegro vivace (F) – 1'45
    Dance movement.

  • No. 4
    maestoso – andante (D) – 1'
    Very short.

  • No. 5
    adagio – andante quasi allegretto (B flat) – 5'30
    with harp, flute, clarinet, bassoon and cello as soloists.

  • No. 6
    un poco adagio – allegro (G) – 1'27
    A short introduction then an allegro full of gaiety.

  • No. 7
    grave * (G) – 3'55
    Majestic and vigorous.

  • No. 8
    allegro con brio ** - presto (D) – 6'12
    Lovely and heroic, a sort of warlike dance : one of the hight points of the work.

  • No. 9
    adagio – allegro molto * (E flat/C minor) – 3'44
    classic adagio (clarinets) / allegro with oboes at the start, followed by a dramatic passage.

  • No. 10
    pastorale * (allegro) ( C ) - 2'48
    Rustic dance

  • No. 11
    andante ( C ), very short – 0'24

  • No. 12
    maestoso – adagio – allegro * ( C ) - 2'56
    Flute solo in the adagio followed by a very lively allegro.

  • No. 13
    allegro * (D) – 3'50
    A sort of German dance, pleasant and brilliant, with brass and percussion.

  • No. 14
    andante – adagio -allegro (F) – 4'35
    The introduction contains a basset horn solo which is answered by the oboe.
    Lively allegro, with the same soloists.

  • No. 15
    andantino – adagio – allegro (B flat) – 3'52
    Typical ballet movement.

  • No. 16 : Finale ***
    allegretto – allegro molto (E flat) – 6'13

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It appears Beethoven was particularly fond of the theme of the finale as it can also be found:

  • in the seventh of the twelve Contredances for orchestra (WoO 14), from which Beethoven probably extracted it;

  • in the series of 15 variations with fugue for piano opus 35 “Eroica”, composed in 1802; these variations represent an important work of more than 20mins duration;

  • in the finale of the Symphony No. 3 “Eroica”, composed in 1803: this theme is reset, expanded, varied, orchestrated and its hearing always brings to mind the hero Prometheus.

In conclusion, “The Creatures of Prometheus” is a remarkable and little known work of Beethoven's.

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Title “The Creatures of Prometheus”: discography

This work is certainly difficult to find, and even then, only two performances are often available. Here some can be found on the internet, new or second-hand.

Available
Available
in the USA

Available
Available
in the UK

Available
Available
in France

Available
Available
in Germany

-
Probably
out of sale

  • Günther HERBIG and the Staatskapelle Berlin - 1971 - Berlin Classics - Search Dispo sur Amazon.fr Dispo sur Amazon

  • David ZINMAN and the Rochester Philharmony Orchestra - 1977 - Allegria - Search Buy from Amazon.com Dispo sur Amazon.fr Dispo sur Amazon

  • The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra - 1986 - Deutsche Grammophone - Search Buy from Amazon.com Dispo sur Amazon.fr Dispo sur Amazon

  • Nicolas HARNONCOURT and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe – Recorded in public - 1993 - Teldec - Search Buy from Amazon.com Dispo sur Amazon.fr Dispo sur Amazon

  • Charles MACKERRAS and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra - 1994 - Hyperion - Search Buy from Amazon.comDispo sur Amazon.fr Dispo sur Amazon

  • Claudio ABBADO and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - 1994 - Sony - Search Buy from Amazon.com Dispo sur Amazon.fr Dispo sur Amazon

  • Michael HALASZ - Melbourne Symphony Orchestra - 1998 - Naxos - Search Buy from Amazon.com Dispo sur Amazon.fr Dispo sur Amazon

  • Karl Anton RICKENBACHER and the Litauische Kammerphilharmonie - 2002 - RCA - Search Dispo sur Amazon.fr Dispo sur Amazon

  • Franz BRUGGEN and the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century – 1996 – Philips – A rarity!
There are also two versions for piano:
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Piano: Cyprien Katsaris
Recored in September 1998
Piano 21

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Finally, there exists a version with German text by Peter Ustinov, who was passionate about Beethoven :

the performance uses that by Karl Anton RICKENBACHER and the Litauische Kammerphilharmonie

BMG - 2001

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Many thanks to Melanie PIDDOCKE for her translation of this page from French into English

Ludwig van Beethoven's website - http://www.LvBeethoven.com
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