German Opera Ends for the Moment with Beethoven

In order to understand the influence that Ludwig van Beethoven had on Europe, we need go no further than a European website:  “Beethoven truly felt that he was both sent by God and inspired by God.  ‘Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy,’ he is quoted as saying.  People approach Beethoven with a feeling of awe and reverence, an appropriate response to one of the supreme creative geniuses of history.”

In terms of German opera, Beethoven’s Fidelio (his first and only opera, initially known as Leonore) was premiered in 1805.  It was subjected to much alteration; it went from three acts to two acts in 1806; and in the fourth version (known as the Fidelio Overture), the dialogue was spoken.  

Stieler1820 Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven, German Composer

Ludwig van Beethoven

It is believed that Gustav Mahler created the modern version, where the Fidelio Overture is played before the curtain rises; and Leonore No. 3 is played during an interlude in the second act.  It was not until 1927 that the spoken dialogue was turned into recitative by Artur Bodanzky.

While we don’t agree that “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy,” we do understand and agree with Beethoven’s intent–that music has a more profound effect.  Wisdom and philosophy produce their desired effect in our minds; music affects the entire being and should ultimately lead us to wisdom and understanding.