Opus 116: "Tremate, empi tremate", вокальное трио с оркестром

`Трепещи, нечестивость`, автор текста: Giovanni de Gamerra
Время создания: первые месяцы 1802 - конец 1802 / начало 1803 гг.

Hanne-Lore Kuhse - сопрано
Eberhard Buchner - тенор
Siegfried Vogel - бас
дирижер Артур Апельт

From winter 1801 until spring 1803 Beethoven took lessons with Antonio Salieri (the Salieri who did not kill Mozart). At that time he was already a celebrated instrumental composer in Vienna. Gradually, his interest turned to large vocal compositions such as oratorios and operas which he was less familar with regarding their technique of composing. Salieri, on the opposite, was highly acclaimed for his (Italian) operas. His popularity that extended far beyond Vienna was mainly due to his compositions for stage. Thus Beethoven voluntarily took lessons with the great master to learn the ropes of vocal composition.
The tercet "Tremate, empi, tremate" op. 116 was composed during these lessons. Salieri probably suggested the Italian text. Beethoven had already drafted the piece in early 1802. Originally, Beethoven intended to perform the tercet at his academy during the Holy Week of 1802. However, the concert did not take place as Beethoven could not book the desired venue for the concert, the "Hoftheater" (he then became angry with the theatre director Peter von Braun). Only one year later, on April 5, 1803 did the concert take place. Until then, Beethoven completed the tercet as conserved documents indicate. However, the tercet was still not performed at this concert due to the already quite extensive programme featuring the First and Second Symphony, the third piano concert and the oratorio "Christ on the mount of olives".

The tercet was finally performed for the first time several years later during a concert on February 27, 1814 together with the Seventh and Eight Symphony as well as the battle music "Wellington's Victory". Anna Milder-Hauptmann, Beethoven's first Leonore, Giuseppe Siboni and Carl Weinmüller, who sang Rocco's part in the opera "Fidelio", accepted the vocal parts. The announcement for the concert said Beethoven would perform a novel and never heard vocal tercet. That was not quite true as he had composed the tercet in 1802/03. At least the piece had not been performed yet and was still unknown to the audience.


Beethoven composed "Tremate, empi, tremate," Op. 116, in 1801-02, possibly with the guidance of Antonio Salieri (1750-1825). Beethoven revised the piece in 1814 for a benefit concert on February 27, featuring the premieres of both "Tremate" and Symphony No. 8, Op. 93. "Tremate" was well received. The piano-vocal score of "Tremate" was published in February 1826 by S. A. Steiner & Co. in Vienna, despite the fact that Beethoven had given the work to Steiner in 1815, possibly to pay off a loan. The full score was not printed until 1862-5 as part of the Complete Edition of Beethoven's Works, published in Leipzig by Breitkopf & Härtel. The text is by Bettoni.

There are numerous similarities between "Tremate" and the trio, "In meinen Adern," from the oratorio, Christus am Ölberg, Op. 85, including the forces (soprano, tenor, and bass), the key (B flat major) and the shape of the opening melody. In fact, it is reasonable to regard "Tremate" and two other works possibly composed under the supervision of Salieri--the soprano aria, No, non turbati, a duet for soprano and tenor, Nei giorni tuoi felici--as preparatory "exercises" for the oratorio, which contains similar numbers.

Beethoven must have either thought highly of "Tremate" or realized its potential for popular appeal, for he included it on programs for several concerts from 1814 until his death.

Beethoven's "Tremate" is for soprano, tenor, and bass soloists with an orchestra consisting of two each of flute, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, timpani, and strings. With almost no introduction, the bass, supported by the orchestra, sings the fiery opening alone. The three soloists rarely sing together, usually answering one another in short phrases. In three parts, the piece's long central section, in 3/4 and on the subdominant, E flat major, provides staggering contrast. The tempo slows from Allegro to Adagio, the orchestra texture thins out, as does the writing for the three voices, until the section culminates in an intense passage with imitative entries on "Son queste," "Son questi" and "è quest'." After the return to the tonic, B flat major, the music takes on a martial atmosphere and the writing becomes more homorhythmic, ending with a crowd-pleasing "bang."

(John Palmer)