Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wellington and Beethoven

I'm not very up on classical music, but I can recognise the melodies of the major works, even though I can't say for sure what they're called or who composed them. I know enough to be able to place at least 2 major works that were composed during or dedicated to events during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars; namely the Eroica Symphony, or Symphony no.3, Op.55 (originally dedicated to Napoleon, but Beethoven later furiously scratched out his name after Bonaparte crowned himself emperor in 1804); and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, dedicated to the heroic resistance to and defeat of the French invasion of Russia.

What I didn't know until recently was that Beethoven knocked out a tribute to Wellington after his victory over King Joseph and Marshal Jourdan at Vitoria in 1813. Apparently not considered one of his greatest works (I suppose that's why it's not so well known), Beethoven reportedly said in his defense against criticism "What I shit is better than anything you could ever think up!"

Interestingly Beethoven was first given the idea to write the piece as a score for a mechanical orchestra, or panharmonium, invented by a friend of his, but later expanded it to a conventional orchestra piece. Read more about it here

So, enjoy some of Beethoven's shit!

(Found a new version of the whole piece from start to finish. Be patient: it doesn't start until about the 1:45 mark)

Wellington's Victory or the Battle Symphony, Op.91


  1. A classical response to the critics everywhere.

  2. Yes I've enjoyed this piece of shit for years! :D

    I discovered "Wellington's Victory" when it came with the "1812 Overture" on a CD I bought in the '80s. My version is over 16 minutes long and includes cannon and musket fire. I guess that's why they included it with "1812."

    It's actually very clever piece with different ensembles woven together and interruptions by the English Anthem.

    I don't know if you're are a big fan of classical music, but I'd recommend listening to the full version. I've ignored my classical collection recently and it was fun digging out this CD again. :)


  3. Feldmarschall, I think we've got the same CD.

  4. That's some great shit!!! I didn't know about this either!!!

  5. The things you learn while avoiding work! There certainly seems to be pyrotechnics or musket fire in your version too Rosbif, and what a great line in put downs that rascal Beethoven had.

  6. Good post. The victory at Vittoria certainly deserved praise.


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