Ludwig van Beethoven

Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus (The Creatures of Prometheus), ballet, Op. 43

    Description by John Palmer

    Beethoven's ballet score Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus (The Creatures of Prometheus) was created in collaboration with choreographer Salvatore Viganò. Commissioned in 1800, the ballet was the composer's first major work for the stage. Premiered in Vienna's Burgtheater on March 28, 1801, Prometheus was initially a great success, and within a few years it had been peformed dozens of times. Still, it was criticized by a contemporary as "fragmentary" and "too learned for a ballet," and the score, save for the overture, has since been generally neglected as little more than an historical curiosity. The work's opus number is somewhat problematic. In June 1801, Artaria published Beethoven's piano arrangement of the score, dedicated to Prince Lichnowsky, as Opus 24. In the same year, the firm of Mollo intended to publish a pair of violin sonatas as Opus 23; likely because of a printing error, the second of these, now familiar as the "Spring" Sonata, was issued separately as Opus 24, necessitating a change in opus number for Prometheus. Three years later, Hoffmeister published the full score of the overture only as Opus 43, lending the false impression that the work was composed some years later than it actually was.

    Aside from a few interesting aspects of its orchestration, the most important part of the ballet, musically speaking, is the 16th and final number. This section shares its key, main theme, and bass line with the seventh of the Twelve Contredanses, WoO 14, composed at intervals between 1791 and 1802. It is certain that the material of this particular dance dates from about the time of the ballet, though scholars disagree on which work was the first to take shape; considering the composer's working method, it is entirely possible that the two developed simultaneously. In any event, this workhorse of a theme came to even greater prominence through its use in Beethoven's 15 Variations and Fugue for piano, Op. 35, and in the finale of his epochal Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, "Eroica," Op. 55.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Overture. Adagio - Allegro molto con brio
    2. Introduction. La tempesta. Allegro non troppo
    3. Poco Adagio
    4. Adagio - Allegro con brio
    5. Allegro vivace
    6. Maestoso - Andante
    7. Adagio - Andante quasi Allegretto
    8. Un poco Adagio - Allegro
    9. Grave
    10. Allegro con brio
    11. Adagio
    12. Pastorale. Allegro
    13. Coro di Gioja. Andante
    14. Solo di Gioja. Maestoso
    15. Terzettino Grotteschi. Allegro
    16. Solo della Cassentini. Andante
    17. Solo di Viganó. Andantino
    18. Finale. Allegretto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Exton 68
    2015 Analekta AN 291505
    2015 Sony Classical 88883763622
    2015 Andromeda ANDRCD 9079
    2014 Decca
    2014 Decca B002099302
    2014 Tafelmusik Media TMK 1023CD2
    2014 Fuga Libera FUG 716
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2013 Simax / Simax Classics PSC 1284
    2013 Naxos 8501204
    2013 Decca
    2012 dB Productions DBCD 148
    2011 Deutsche Grammophon 4779830
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2011 Berlin Classics 0300307BC
    2011 Warner Classics 63779
    2011 ZYX / ZYX Music CLA 10118
    2009 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon
    2009 Denon Records
    2008 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon
    2008 Zig Zag Territoires 80402
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    2007 ArtHaus Musik 101717
    2005 Hyperion 55196
    2004 Sony Music Distribution 92480
    2004 RCA Classics / RCA Red Seal 64606
    2001 Piano 21 001
    1998 ICONE 9409
    1998 Naxos 553404
    1997 Point 267012
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 4537132
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 447911
    1995 Teldec 90876
    1995 Divertimento Records 41002
    1994 Hyperion CDA66748
    1992 EMI Classics CDC 7491012
    Koch Schwann 316070
    Amado Classics 03010
    Cascade Records 2211
    Brilliant 93525/66
    Capriccio Records 10548
    Multisonic 102
    Arkadia 757
    RCA 60786
    Vox 7112
    Tahra 103
    Pickwick 1611