Developing Variation...but in Beethoven's Eroica Funeral March

Los Angeles Youth Orchestra performing the second movement Funeral March from Beethoven’s Symphony No 3 "Eroica"
Concert November 19, 2018, Ambassador Auditorium

Last week at Disney Hall I talked about Brahms’ technique of developing variation, where all ideas seem to evolve from an opening kernel of tones. Well, here’s where he got that idea—a work like Beethoven’s cosmic funeral march in the Eroica symphony. Listen how every idea springs forth from the first grumbly four notes in the basses—a quick upbeat of G-A-B-C. The musical ideas that follow involve either four notes up or four notes down. The lush elegiac tune in E flat major—four notes down, E flat, D, C, B flat. The trio with its vision of heaven—four notes up, G-A-B-C. The terrifying and dramatic fugue—a subject of four notes up, F-G-A flat-B flat. The final disintegration of life at the end of the movement—preceded by a slow long descending scale.

I’m so proud of the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra for the intensity and determination of their interpretation. Kudos to Katherine Norton who performed the oboe solo. This performance was from the concert November 19, 2018 in Ambassador Auditorium, Pasadena.