Tragedy, Drama, Beethoven: The Coriolan Overture and more (of course)…

Tragedy, Drama, Beethoven: The Coriolan Overture and more (of course)…

I know I have been neglectful of my blog, and have made many promises. I shall most likely keep them all, in time, but as for now, I have been making some decent headway into my next novel and that keeps me quite occupied as you can imagine!

But to give, perhaps, some insight into the writing process of mine, I can only say: music. A LOT of music.

Basically, anything that sounds tragic enough to be useful. That includes (is not limited to)

Brahms’ 4th Symphony

Dvorak’s 7th Symphony

Verdi’s Requiem

Mozart’s Requiem

Brahms’ Requiem

Bruckner’s 7th, 8th, and 9th Symphonies

Beethoven’s 5th Symphony

Schumann’s 4th Symphony

Schubert’s 8th Symphony

Brahms’ Tragic Overture

Mahler’s Symphonies

Beethoven’s 14th and 15th String Quartet

Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge

Beethoven’s Egmont Overture

Beethoven’s Coriolanus Overture


On that last one we’ll stop and dwell on it. It’s only about 10 minutes long, not very long considering that most of his symphonies are about a half hour to an hour long and are the main source of admiration for Beethoven. (He gets a lot of attention for his quartets and sonatas and rightly so). I feel, however, that his overtures are greatly underappreciated.

Coriolanus, for instance. Or as he titled it, Coriolan.

Coriolanus, of course, was an ancient Roman general who marched on Rome after defecting to the enemy and marched on its gates, only persuaded to give up after his mother came out and shamed him. So he retired, according to Livy. He was killed according to Plutarch, and he was viciously murdered according to Shakespeare. Of course, Shakespeare’s interpretation was necessary if there was going to be a play.

But literature aside, let’s tackle the overture.

Wagner wrote that overtures are meant to capture the spirit or essence of a story, (or at least Beethoven’s did according to him). That explains the weirdness of the ending of the Egmont overture. How does a tragedy end happy? If music can ever really end happy? (Or triumphant?)

Well, Egmont dies in Goethe’s play so that can’t be it!

It’s because Egmont is about “democracy” and thus, Beethoven captures the feeling of democracy in his music. The ending triumph is the ultimate triumph of democracy.

Then what about Coriolan? What does the end signify? The three lonely plucking of the string that beats with our hearts?

I am at a total loss on this one.

Beethoven’s music covers such a range of emotion it is impossible to list or label them all. In fact, the vast majority of them probably don’t exist except within the context of his music.


That’s a good word.







Vast and Impenetrable?

Who knows for sure? None of these words really capture any single moment. That’s the magic of Beethoven. He pairs his motifs so well that the Overture itself is like a story, a novel, where several motifs fight it out — or are they working together? I can’t even tell that much.

It’s a great drama, like the entire span of a man’s life. One great drama.

Shakespeare knew that.

I think that Beethoven and Shakespeare would have gotten along well. Beethoven and Goethe seemed to have.

Anyway, that’s today’s ramblings. Drama. Tragedy. Music. The futile hope of finding a place in Beethoven’s shadow…



P.S. Imagine what my book is going to read like… makes me shudder…


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