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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Classical Era > Overture to "Egmont". Op. 84 (Beethoven)


Overture to "Egmont". Op. 84

Ludwig Van Beethoven
(1770-1827)



The overture and incidental music to Goethe's "Egmont" were written by Beethoven in the years 1809-1810. The plot of the drama follows the historical narrative of the life of the Count of Egmont, the Flemish nobleman, who although a Catholic, opposed the govenment which Philip sought to establish in the Netherlands, and became one of the associates of William of Orange in his struggle for Netherlandish liberty. By a treacherous conspiracy on the part of the infamous Duke of Alva, he was captured and executed, September 9, 1567.

The overture opens with a short Andante introduction, followed by a theme in Sarabande tempo given out in full harmony by the strings. Woodwinds and strings reply in a subdued strain, leading to a fortisimo in full orchestra, followed by an impressive repetition of portions of the Sarabande. The woodwind passages return again, followed by a new passage, pianissimo in the first violins, accompanied by a tremolo in the other strings and a repetition of the Sarabande in the basses. The Allegro, or main section of the overture, opens with a crescendo, at the close of which the strings give out the first theme. Then follows passage work, leading to the second theme, bearing close relation to the Sarabande, which is given out fortissimo by the strings. The development leads to a tremendous climax. The Coda is composed of entirely new material. The close is a jubilant, mighty fanfare in full orchestra.





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