Beethoven, Siegessinfonie

Ludwig van Beethoven


Modern edition by David Whitwell

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.

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

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