Widely acknowledged as one of the most pivotal symphonic compositions in all of western music, the third symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven is, in substance, rarely agreed upon. Beethoven’s semi-programmatic title, “Eroica,” the extreme size, unique formal organization, and developmental history of the work collectively open up too many variables to allow a singular analytical approach to this work that is mutually agreed upon by the musical community plausible, as evidenced by over 200 years of serious efforts to do exactly that. This discourse seeks to give one possible analysis, thefocus being primarily upon the organization of thematic elements that give the work acyclical or “symphonic” quality.

This analysis was written in 2005 and revised in 2010.

Jordan Randall Smith is the Music Director of Symphony Number One.