Beethoven originally dedicated this symphony to Napoleon, whom he saw as
the champion of the common man, a hero pursuing the ideals of the French
Revolution: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. However, upon hearing that
Napoleon had declared himself emperor, Beethoven became furious and tore up
the title page containing the dedication. The "Eroica" marks one of the
turning points in music history, heralding a new age in symphonic style.
Prior to this work, Beethoven had been a composer with roots in the 18th
century. The Third Symphony's length and the nature of its thematic
material, emotional depth, range and harmonic daring set it apart from any
earlier symphonic work. This recording is part of Bernstein's complete
cycle of Beethoven symphonies recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic
Orchestra live in Vienna. The series won the Ace Award, the U.S. Cable TV
Association's top award for outstanding quality and entertainment value.
Bernstein's impassioned renderings of Beethoven move audiences in a unique
way. "Beethoven has always meant universality to me, ever since my early
adolescence, when I first heard that unforgettable cry of 'Brüder!'. From
that moment on, every... symphony came to mean heart-to-heart
communication, travelling satellite-fashion via the cosmos itself. I offer
[this cycle] to all music-loving ears as a testament of faith and of my
most profound reactions to this greatest of all composers."
(Leonard Bernstein, 1980)