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Beethoven’s First Symphony premiered in Vienna where the young Beethoven was already well-known. Mozart had recently died and Haydn was nearly retired so Vienna wanted a new hero. Even though this symphony is in C major, it does not start that way. Beethoven wanted to startle people.

The year before the Second Symphony was composed, Beethoven told a friend that “for almost two years I have ceased to attend any social functions, because I find it impossible to say to people: I am deaf.” Despite Beethoven’s hearing loss, it is one of his most energetic and cheerful works.

Eroica is one of Beethoven’s most celebrated works and was famously dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte before being changed after Bonaparte declared himself Emperor. This “heroic” symphony is considered a landmark in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras.

The second movement is often played at funerals. In 1963, news of the assassinated of John. F. Kennedy was announced to a stunned audience attending a performance by The Boston Symphony Orchestra. As the noise from the crowd subsided, the orchestra gave an impromptu performance of the second movement.

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