Beethoven, Siegessinfonie

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Siegessinfonie by Ludwig van Beethoven, modern edition for wind ensemble by David Whitwell. 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.

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The Siegess­in­fonie was com­posed by Lud­wig van Beethoven (1770–1827) in 1813 and this mod­ern edi­tion is by David Whitwell (1937–).

The instru­men­ta­tion is for Wind Ensem­ble: 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.

The Siegess­in­fonie lasts for approx­i­mate­ly six and a half min­utes and is of a dif­fi­cul­ty of Grade 5, Medi­um Advanced.

Score pre­view

Notes on Beethoven’s Siegessinfonie

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.

Recording

This live per­for­mance was giv­en on 16 March 2000 by the Cal­i­for­nia State Uni­ver­si­ty, North­ridge Wind Ensem­ble, David Whitwell, Conductor.

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