In my mind, there has always been a sense of something truly revolutionary flowing from the area between Leipzig and Prague. Over the years it has somehow become a comfortable and burnished home for much of my thought and served to deeply inspire me since my early years as an adult.
Never having been there, I have little desire to visit. I would rather it remain the collected wealth of cultural experience and inspiration that I have cobbled together over the years.
I have no idea why I feel so at home with Bach, Wagner, Schumann, Mahler, Weber, Goethe, or even Hus. But over time I have come to understand, just a little, the genius and revolutionary greatness of Beethoven.
The ability of any individual to tap deeply into their cultural surroundings and wrestle out a single work that presents them unsullied to the future, is a feat of astonishing brilliance and talent. Especially when that world is being torn apart and transformed in powerful and unimaginable ways.
The sudden, forcefull, mass upheaval of ideology in Europe at the turn of the 19th century – with it’s pervasive repudiation of the known universe – set the stage for the world we inhabit today. Deeply complex, violent, and often incomprehensible in rational terms, it’s a world we’re still vainly trying to understand and tame.
Beethoven felt and understood the passion, torment and necessity behind the cries for freedom, equality and ability to gather together freely. A witness to the riotous birth of a new idea andexpression of a fervent hope, his Eroica Symphony captures this and more.
I saw this film by accident nearly a decade ago and it has haunted me through the years. Especially the sound of the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique under Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
By the end – open jawed – I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. I had no real idea how powerful this piece must have been when it was first played. And how contemporary and meaningful it could remain today.
“Released on an unsuspecting world in 1804” is an understatement.
I’ve been searching constantly over the last ten years in order to see it again. I only recently discovered it online and suspect it’s life here could be brief. Even though it’s long, I urge you to take a look before it disappears again. This may be the last and only chance you’ll get. There are no guarantees it’ll stick around, so I urge you to find a big screen and some quality sound before it disappears for good, and the ideas along with it.