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On Rethinking Heroism in the 21st Century

    2*2*2*2 3*2*0*0 Timpani Strings

    Duration: 10′

    Composed: 2020

    Programme Note: Beethoven wrote his third symphony, The Eroica, in 1803. It was inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution, and was initially dedicated to its hero, Napoleon Bonaparte. Beethoven thought that Napoleon embodied the principles of freedom and was a man of the people. In 1804 when Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of France, Beethoven was outraged. He violently removed the dedication of the third symphony with a knife, leaving holes in the title page.

    The Bonaparte Symphony became simply The Eroica. Essentially a piece about what it means to be human. Facing one’s own challenges, continuing forward, and allowing a broader understanding of what it is to be a hero.
    In a response to Beethoven’s Eroica, I wanted to further explore this idea of humanism and heroism. For much of our history a hero was someone who loudly emerged from a battle; a person who conquered; eradicated the enemy; pillaged; assimilated the vanquished. And what about heroism today? What if it is quiet, elegant, persistent. What if it is in standing up for something rather than standing on top of something?

    Excerpt [PDF]


    Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Rune Bergmann, conductor, March 6+7, 2020

    Kelly-Marie Murphy, composer