Beethoven’s The Consecration of the House Overture

Notes by TŌN violinist Tianpei Ai

Energy and Passion
The Consecration of the House Overture is rarely performed these days. The piece was commissioned by Carl Friedrich Hensler, who was the director of a new theatre in Vienna in 1824. The Overture is very heroic even though it was composed during Beethoven’s final years. It was premiered on May 7, 1824, and at that time Beethoven had already been completely deaf for many years. It is absolutely remarkable that he could still compose such a masterpiece. This overture basically contains no sentimental emotions. From the very first note to the end it is full of energy and passion, but in a very classical style which contains an A section (slow tempo) and a B section (fast tempo).

Liberal Politics, Conservative Composition
I want to highlight the classical style of this piece rather than its historical background because every audience member can use their smartphone to discover the story of this piece. Beethoven supported Napoleon Bonaparte, but when Napoleon became the French Emperor, Beethoven was very disappointed in him because he reestablished the monarchy in France. According to his political views, one could identify Beethoven as an extreme liberal during that time. However, throughout his life, he basically maintained his composing style as a Classical composer. In the 1820s, Romanticism in the composing world had already been very popular in European countries. Composers such as Paganini, Schubert, Rossini, and Bellini, to name a few, were already very famous. But despite their Romantic style of composing, Beethoven still kept his “old fashion.” He can be considered a conservative in his composing style because Romanticism in composing seeks a very liberal way to release the emotions instead of following the rules of the Classical era. From this fascinating fact, we can see that to identify people by labeling them as liberal or conservative sometimes is not very scientific and logical. Human nature is complicated. As a composer, Beethoven is among the greatest without any doubt.