Composer search

Search by surname

Detailed search

Repertoire search

Catalogue search

“Beethoven’s Egmont Overture” Praised by the New York Times

Daniel Hope and his ensemble performed Jan Müller-Wieland’s adaptation “Beethoven’s Egmont Overture” for septet on 27 February at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (Alice Tully Hall). Because this work uses the very same instrumental combination that Stravinsky required for his melodrama “The Story of a Soldier,” the latter work was also performed with the participation of the actor Klaus Maria Brandauer.

The score of “Beethoven’s Egmont Overture” by Jan-Müller Wieland has just been released as a printed edition (SIK 1732).

The New York Times wrote the following about the concert:

“The most staggering arrangement of Beethoven I ever heard was the first movement of the Sixth Symphony, performed in north Thailand by the Lampang Junior High School Marching Band accompanied by eight elephants who banged merrily away on cue at a series of drums, cymbals, xylophones and vibrating sheets of metal. Nothing could beat that (and I still have the recording). But the first work last night for a concert called ‘War And Pieces’ came close to the Thai extravaganza. Composer Jan Müller-Wieland was given the task of arranging Beethoven’s overture to Goethe’s play Egmont for the same instruments that would be used later for Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale. Frankly, it would have been easier to just let the elephants stamp it out, but Mr. Müller-Wieland was not only game for the task, but added some Stravinsky-ish fillips to the score. The result was a success only that it could be done at all. But it seems doubtful that one will ever hear Egmont the same way ever again.

The notes were identical, but the trombone and clarinet added some glissandi and a few blues riffs. The great crescendos so studiously penned by Herr Ludwig were transformed into percussion solos by the astonishing Hans-Kristian Kjos Sǿrensen. Daniel Hope had the Augean task of playing the whole string section on his single violin. And the Allegro con brio climax—one of the most impressive of any Beethoven overture—was left to the other instruments to play along.

The result had that original Thai-elephant atmosphere of improvisational enthusiasm, but it also embraced the sickliness of a Sicilian funeral and the tinny circus music of La Strada. (…)”

(Harry Rolnick)