Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor Op. 37 (1803)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
- Allegro con brio
- Rondo – Allegro
Born in Bonn, Beethoven moved to Vienna in 1792 to study composition with Joseph Haydn. Haydn’s influence is apparent in Beethoven’s early symphonies and concertos. However, it is Mozart who he most admired. Mozart’s C minor Piano Concerto (No. 24) was published in 1800 about the time Beethoven completed the first movement of his third piano concerto, also in C minor. Despite its evident homage to the Mozart work, this is the first of his piano concertos that reveals the mature Beethoven.
Although the concerto was intended to be performed in 1800 at the first of Beethoven’s benefit concerts, only the first movement was finished. Eventually it was completed and premiered at an 1802 benefit concert with Beethoven as the soloist. Beethoven hadn’t finished notating the solo part, leaving many pages blank, much to the consternation of the page turner!
By this time Beethoven was starting to go deaf and in 1802 had confided his angst to his family in the famous Heiligenstadt Testament. However, this turmoil is not evident in the third concerto. The first movement opens with a long orchestral introduction that presents the principal themes. The piano develops these in ever more inventive ways eventually coming to a stormy ending back in C minor. The hymn-like slow movement features some glorious interplay between the soloist and woodwind before the rollicking rondo finale brings the concerto to a close.
Performed: Nov 2008, Sep 2022