In October 1811, a new German theater was due to be opened in Pest (now
part of Budapest); and Beethoven was commissioned to write the inaugural
music for the event. The King Stephen Overture, named after the Hungarian
King, begins with a slow introduction. Then follows a lively Hungarian tune
and a "Friss," a quick and melodic section of the "csárdás." Indeed,
Leonard Bernstein has described this overture as "a charmer and a
curiosity, a cross between Béla Bartók and Shortnin' Bread."
This recording is part of Leonard Bernstein's Beethoven cycle, recorded
primarily with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in the early 1980s.
Writing in The New York Times, critic John J. O'Connor stated: "As Mr.
Bernstein says, there is 'no single body of work in the universe of
orchestral music that is in any way comparable to this one.' Conducted with
intense dedication and soaring spirits by Mr. Bernstein, these recordings
are superb, both visually and aurally."