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Eroica: 4th movement (variation form)

Form scheme
4th movement
The 4th movement is an expanded variation form about 2 themes that also occur combined and are extended by fugato sections.

bars 1-11
After a quick introduction a theme is presented by the strings in pizzicati (the strings are plucked with the fingers) and later becomes a theme in the bass.

bars 12-43
The theme is presented in a setting for 3 parts.

This theme is not new in Beethoven’s work and has also been set for 4 parts. He had already used it in his Six Counter-dances - a work for piano - and by re-introducing it in the Finale of his Ballet "The Creatures of Prometheus" it acquired programmatic importance. He also used it in his 15 variations on an original theme in E-flat major, op.15. This set of variations can be called an immediate precursor of the Eroica Finale.

bars 59-75
Beethoven introduces a melodic counterpoint to this theme.

bars 75-83
Then he forms a fugato out of the bass theme.

bars 84-107
The theme gained in this way is played by the whole orchestra in forte.

bars 107-116
The following modulation to C minor is partly shaped from the 1st bar of the newly gained theme.

Variation 4 replays the theme in C major, accompanied by the sixteenth notes on the first violins, soon shifting to C minor. In the 2nd violins and violas the bass theme recurs in fugato - in its original form but also as a reflection. Beethoven does not keep to the traditional form of variations. He elaborates freely on the basis of the bass theme and the descant theme he has added.

In variation 5 the speed slows down to a "Poco Andante". As if the symphony could be contained in one idea the theme spreads choral-like, with the annotation "con espressione e legato".

The 6th variation shows how much the character of a theme can be transformed within a musical process. The theme he had used at first to counterpoint the bass is now sounded in fortissimo.

bars 431-442
The Coda - at the speed of Presto - is started with a series of jubilant sixteenth notes, similar to the beginning of the movement. The descant theme is restated.

bars 443-473
The movement proceeds jubilantly and at great speed to its end. E-flat major, the heroic key, is predominant: in the basic cord, in the fragmented chord or in the E-flat scale. It is a brilliant ending.

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