Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)
Modern edition by David Whitwell (1937–).
🎺 Wind Ensemble
⏰ 6 min 30 sec
📄 PDF download
Instrumentation: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 3 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, triangle.
Following a minor victory, the first of allied troops over Napoleon, the Battle of Vitoria in Spain on 21 June 1813, Beethoven’s friend Johann Mälzel saw an opportunity for a quick box-office success and talked the composer into writing a composition commemorating this battle which he could notate on his ‘mechanical orchestra’: the panharmonicon. Beethoven, however, wrote a composition for large band—an instrumentation so large that Mälzel could not build a machine large enough to perform the music. As an alternative plan, Beethoven rewrote the Siegessinfonie for orchestra, added a first part and renamed the work, Wellington’s Victory. In this form it was premiered in Vienna, together with the premiere of the Symphony No. 7 and a work performed by Mälzel’s mechanical trumpeter.
The original band composition survives in a presentation copy by Beethoven’s copyist, with the composer’s corrections and a title page entirely in his hand.