January 17th, 2011


Missing the point, maybe?

Yesterday, WCRB played Beethoven's Third as part of their programming in honor of MLK Day. The host explained the connection, that the Eroica was dedicated "to the memory of a great man."

But the way I learned the history, the dedication was meant ironically. Beethoven had originally written it to honor Napoleon Boonaparte, but before the work was premiered Beethoven was disgusted by what he saw as Napoleon's betrayal of the moral principles of the French Revolution, and he tore up the dedication page and rewrote it as "to the memory of a great man" --- not because Napoleon was dead, but that he was no longer a great man, and Beethoven was mourning his moral downfall.

I'd expect more knowledge of basic music history from a classical music station, especially one that's part of the WGBH family.