По заказу графов Браун, 1802
Посвящен княгине Марии Эстерхази
1. Allegro ma non troppo C-dur
2. Vivace Es-dur
3. Vivace D-dur
There is some doubt about the time these marches for piano, four hands, were composed, though their publication date of 1804 and their style suggest Beethoven probably wrote them the year before. He produced only about five or six works for piano, four hands, apparently because the genre did not appeal to him. His motivation to produce these works came when he received a commission from music patron Count Johann Georg Browne.
If Beethoven had been cool to this realm, he did not divulge a lack of enthusiasm or inspiration here. All three of these marches are well-crafted, not designed to serve merely as entertaining salon fare. Of course, by this time (assuming their composition did occur in 1803) Beethoven had already written his first two symphonies and was working on (or about to work on) his Third ("Eroica"). It is no surprise then, that he approached the commission with the idea of providing something of substantial value.
The three pieces are, respectively, in the keys of C, E flat, and D. They are not episodic in style, but rather symphonic. The first begins with a glorious, regal-sounding theme that must have satisfied Count Browne and his circle of friends. Its first three notes permeate all but the trio section, which continues the joyous, aristocratic mood. The writing for both players fully exploits the range of the keyboard and makes considerable technical demands.
The second march begins more vigorously, featuring that Beethovenian manic quality, which, in this work, effervesces with wit and color. The middle section, with a droll bass rhythmic figure, is quite a delight. This may be the most effective of the trio. The third of the pieces is colorful and energetic, featuring many trills and other brilliant pianistic effects. The middle section contains some charming rhythmic writing, and the ending offers sparkles with deftly-wrought humor. Like the first march, both of these are quite pianistically challenging for the players.
The three pieces are among Beethoven's most colorful and brilliant and must be regarded as masterpieces in the four hand genre. Even when considered amid all piano music, these three marches quite strongly hold their own. Though Beethoven had written the music for Count Browne, he dedicated it to Princess Maria Esterhazy. Each piece runs about three-and-a-half minutes in duration.
(All Music Guide)