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Sinfónica de Minería Anne-Marie McDermott, piano
Orchestral Series
Thursday, June 20, 2024 at 6pm Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater

Sinfónica de Minería opens its historic Bravo! Vail residency with an all-Beethoven program featuring Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 performed by Anne-Marie McDermott and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica, led by Artistic Director Carlos Miguel Prieto.

Did you know?

When Beethoven premiered his Third Piano Concerto, in 1803, it had germinated for seven years but he hadn’t yet notated the piano part completely. Since he would be the soloist, he knew how the piece went, written out or not.

Featured Artists

Carlos Miguel Prieto


Anne-Marie McDermott


Program Highlights

  • Carlos Miguel Prieto, conductor 
  • Anne-Marie McDermott, piano 

BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No. 3 

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3, Eroica 

Program Notes

Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 (1796 - 1803)

(34 minutes)


Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37 
     Allegro con brio
     Rondo: Allegro

A music-lover listening to Beethoven’s C-minor Piano Concerto may entertain recollections of an earlier C-minor Piano Concerto, the brooding, even despairing one that Mozart composed in 1786. During Mozart’s lifetime, however, it could be played only from manuscript parts. It was not published until 1800, the same year Beethoven brought the first movement of his own C-minor Piano Concerto into reasonably finished form. Beethoven was an admirer of the Mozart work. Walking with the pianist-and-composer Johann Baptist Cramer, he overheard an outdoor performance (or perhaps a rehearsal) of Mozart’s C-minor Concerto. He is reputed to have stopped in his tracks, called attention to a particularly beautiful motif, and exclaimed, with a mixture of admiration and despondency, “Cramer, Cramer! We shall never be able to do anything like that!” “As the theme was repeated and wrought up to the climax”— according to the account of Cramer’s widow—“Beethoven, swaying his body to and fro, marked the time and in every possible manner manifested a delight rising to enthusiasm.”

On April 2, 1800, at Vienna’s Burgtheater, Beethoven undertook his first benefit concert (in those days, a benefit concert being understood to mean “for the benefit of the composer”). He planned to unveil his C-minor Piano Concerto on that high-profile occasion but managed to complete only the stormy first movement and a detailed sketch of the second by the time the date arrived. He stopped working on the piece until the opportunity for another prominent concert arose, which it did in 1802. But for some reason that concert was canceled, and again Beethoven devoted himself to other more immediately profitable projects rather than finish his concerto.

By the time he completed the noble second movement and the rather jaunty third, the composition of the C-minor Concerto stretched over some three and a half years, not including preliminary sketches, which reached back to 1796—plus a further year if you count the time it took him to actually write out the piano part, and yet another five beyond that until he wrote down the first-movement cadenza. Neither of these last two was necessary as long as Beethoven was the soloist; he knew how the piece should go, after all. Nonetheless, the fragmentary state of the piano score caused considerable stress for Beethoven’s colleague Ignaz von Seyfried, who served as page-tuner at the premiere. “He gave me a secret glance whenever he was at the end of one of the invisible passages,” Seyfried reported, “and my scarcely concealable anxiety not to miss the decisive moment amused him greatly and he laughed heartily during the jovial supper which we ate afterwards.”


(18 minutes)

Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55, Sinfonia Eroica (1802-04)

(47 minutes)


Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55,
Sinfonia Eroica
     Allegro con brio
     Marcia funebre: Adagio assai
     Scherzo: Allegro vivace
     Finale: Allegro molto—Poco andante

Beethoven was a partisan of noble humanitarian principles, joining those who saw the democratic ideals of ancient Greece reflected in the aspirations of the Jacobins of post-Revolutionary France. At the head of the Jacobins was Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Beethoven viewed as a repository of hope for the social enlightenment of humankind.

At the urging of the future King of Sweden, Beethoven began contemplating a musical celebration of Napoleon as early as 1797. As his sketches coalesced into a symphony, he resolved not to simply dedicate his composition to Napoleon, but to name it after him. In the spring of 1804, just as he completed his symphonic tribute, news arrived that Napoleon had crowned himself Emperor, that the standard-bearer of republicanism had seized power as an absolutist dictator. Beethoven’s pupil Ferdinand Ries wrote: “He flew into a rage, shouting, ‘Is even he nothing but an ordinary man! Now he will also trample upon human rights and become a slave to his own ambition; now he will set himself above all other men and become a tyrant.’ Beethoven went to the table, grabbed the top of the title-page, tore it in two, and threw it to the floor. The first page was re-written and the symphony was then for the first time given the title of Sinfonia Eroica.”

When the piece was published, it was presented as Sinfonia Eroica ... per festeggiare il sovvenire di un grand Uomo (Heroic Symphony ... to Celebrate the Memory of a Great Man), and the work’s dedication, originally intended for Napoleon, was given instead to Beethoven’s patron Prince Lobkowitz. It became a leitmotif in Beethoven’s life that individuals would fail to live up to his idealizations, and that he would prefer Mankind in the abstract to Man in the flesh.

At first, critical response was guarded. On February 13, 1805, readers of Leipzig’s Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung ingested this report: “The reviewer belongs to Herr van Beethoven’s sincerest admirers, but in this composition he must confess that he finds too much that is glaring and bizarre, which hinders greatly one’s grasp of the whole, and a sense of unity is almost completely lost.” The same critic maintained that the piece “lasted an entire hour” (italics his). That comment was an exaggeration, but the Eroica was nonetheless the longest symphony ever written when it was unveiled. “If I write a symphony an hour long,” Beethoven is said to have countered, “it will be found short enough.” Reviews of the piece quickly turned favorable, or at least respectful, as critics started to make sense of its more radical elements and accept it as one of the summit achievements in all of music.