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.