Every opening of Beethoven's "Eroica" symphony

[Video Link]. YouTube viewer comment: "I liked the part where they played the opening chords of the symphony."

(thanks, Joe Sabia!)


  1. I hear the difference in the tuning of the orchestra on each recording, and it makes me CRINGE. Really really neat though.

  2. It was interesting to hear all the different concert pitches used. The two main ranges seemed to be  those using “standard pitch” of A=440Hz (the higher sounding ones) and those using “classical pitch” of A=430Hz (the lower sounding ones). A=430Hz is probably the most historically accurate for Mozart, but standards have ranged over time from 392Hz (French Baroque) to 466Hz (Renaissance).

    Beyond that, although “standard pitch” is A=440Hz, major orchestras in New York (NY Phil), Boston (BSO), Los Angeles (LA Phil), France, Italy, and Scandinavia use A=442Hz and major orchestras in Germany, Austria, Russia, Sweden, and Spain use A=443Hz.

  3. That didn’t sound right to me, so I checked my own collection. This is the opening of the second movement (“Allegro con brio”), not the opening of the whole symphony (“Scherzo”, which starts at almost a whisper).

    EDIT: never mind, apparently I’ve had these tracks mislabeled for some time. :(

  4. listening to this filled me with a sudden nostalgia for Tower Records Classical Annex in San Francisco, a place where I could go and the sales staff could actually have an intelligent conversation with you about the merits of various recordings. Ah, those were the days my friend. . .

    1. I got yelled at by a clerk in the Annex when I tried to buy a $3 CD containing a recording of Holst “The Planets”. I didn’t care which recording of the Planets it was I just needed the disc for cheap. his first remark, “this won’t be a good you know?” without actually looking at the disc. I defended my choice saying, “it’s for my class tomorrow. I’m playing it on a mono speaker in a Mac which will do more damage than…” I had to look at the details myself to find the Conductors name. the clerk perked up… “oh actually this just might be okay.” and proceeded to be a font of knowledge about that guy.

      I really don’t miss that place, condescending music clerks, or having to DRIVE to buy music.

      1.  Sounds like you were very lucky to get such a knowledgeable and caring clerk.  I didn’t know there were such things as music clerks.

  5. The YouTube comment reminded me of that Chris Farley skit:”R-remember when you did that thing in that movie and then this other thing happened?”
    “Heh…that was awesome.”

  6. ahecht, your comment about the concert pitch where classical period practice uses A at 430 hz instead of 440 reminds me of a pitch discrimination experiment I once participated in. One finding was that people tended to hear micro intervals as half steps even though they are smaller, so the 10 hz difference in tuning made the chords sound to me like D major instead of the E-Flat major chord Beethoven wrote.

    Also I recall that B. originally thought of a V7-I chord seq. in the sketches,as in the opening of the First Symphony.

  7. I vote for the Munich Philharmonic (Oswald Kabasta, 1943), although there is much to be said for the Chicago Symphony (George Solti, 1989).

  8. I really liked the variety of aural focuses (focii?), especially in the beginning. I assume the earliest recordings were made in mono, and later transcription to stereo CD made the difference, but even so: you can clearly hear how different microphone placements lead to different perspectives on the orchestra. Sadly, (or perhaps not), as we get closer to today the soundstage seems to become fairly standardized. Someone must have made “the” recording, and all subsequent sound engineers have taken that as the proper way to mic this music.

    A personal bonus: things like this help justify my having a set of studio-quality monitor speakers above my screens (Rogers LS3-5A), instead of a pair of cheap and nasty desktop speakers. Makes it so easy to retrieve detail.

  9. No one has posted about the difference in the quality and quantity of sound depending on the recording venues. I can hear the grand halls reverberating in some of these recordings, while in others the orchestras seem sort of disembodied with no space or air between the notes.

Comments are closed.