Творения Прометея, увертюра и балет, Op. 43 (1801)

Die Geschopfe des Prometheus oder Die Macht der Musik und des Tanzes.

Посв. княгине Мaria Christine Lichnowsky, 1800-01 гг.

Балет «Творения Прометея» был поставлен в Вене знаменитым итальянским балетмейстером Сальваторе Вигано в 1801 году. Музыка балета состоит из увертюры, интродукции (картина грозы) и шестнадцати танцеваль­ных номеров.

Overtura. Adagio - Allegro molto e con brio - attacca:

Introduzione. La Tempesta. Allegro non troppo - attacca:

1. Poco Adagio - Allegro con brio - Poco Adagio - Allegro con brio

2. Adagio - Allegro con brio

3. Allegro Vivace

4. Maestoso - Andante

5. Adagio - Andante quasi Allegretto

6. Un poco Adagio - Allegro - (attacca)

7. Grave - (attacca)

8. Allegro con brio - Presto

9. Adagio - Adagio - Allegro molto

10. Pastorle. Allegro

11. Coro Di Gioja. Andante - (attacca)

12. Solo Di Gioja. Maestoso - Adagio - Allegro

13. Terzettino - Grotteschi. Allegro - Comodo - Coda

14. Solo della Signora Cassentini. Andante - Adagio - Allegro - Allegretto

15. Coro (e) Solo de Vigano. Andantino - Adagio - Allegro

16. Finale. Allegretto - Allegro molto - Presto

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra


Переложение для фортепиано: Hess 90


Финал «Героической» и заключительный номер балета «Творения Прометея» написаны, как известно, на одну и ту же тему. Кроме того, детальным анализом обеих партитур и эскизов Бетховена вскрывается ряд дополнительных линий связи, ведущих от балета к симфонии.1


Even as a young man, Beethoven had written music for a ballet, the "Ritterballet" ("Knight's Ballet") WoO 1 for the Bonn carnival in 1791. Ten years later his situation had obviously completely changed: he was no longer the young protege who composed music for a count's pleasure and then was not even mentioned in the concert programme. When the ballet master at the Vienna Hoftheater, Salvatore Vigano, came to Beethoven in 1800, asking him to compose the music for his new ballet "Gli uomini di Prometeo" ("The men of Prometheus"), the composer was already famous. The premiere took place on 28 March 1801 at the Vienna Hofburgtheater. The ballet was performed a total of 29 times in the season 1801/1802 - a great success for a production of the time. Sadly both Vigano's choreography and the original libretto have gone missing; apart from Beethoven's music nothing has remained of the rest of the ballet.

Details about the occasion for the composition as well as about its commission are not known. Already in the mid 1790s Beethoven had written Piano Variations on a "Menuett a la Vigano" (WoO 68) and thus taken sides in a heated dispute between the ballet masters Vigano and his rival Muzzarelli in Vienna. In so doing he might have attracted Vigano's attention or even his sympathies. The young, rising and extraordinarily talented composer was certainly also an excellent musical choice on the part of the choreographer, who was simply looking for the best music for his new ballet. Usually Vigano put together music by different composers for his ballets. "Prometheus" is the only ballet which he intentionally commissioned one single composer to write.

As often occurred when Beethoven dealt with stage works the subjects (here Prometheus) mirrored his own view of the world. In Greek mythology Prometheus is a titan, who goes against the gods' wishes and brings mankind fire. He is bitterly punished for this. An individual's stand against an existing ruling system for the good of mankind is surely one of the myths which reflected Beethoven's enlightened ideals.


Act One of the ballet - even including the overture - is much shorter than the second act. Act One concerns the creation of the first man and woman from dust by Prometheus; the second act concerns the education of these creatures. The theatre-bill for the first performance of March 28, 1801, describes the action as follows:

This allegorical ballet is based on the myth of Prometheus. The Greek philosophers, who knew of him, elucidate the story in the following manner--they depict Prometheus as a lofty spirit who, finding the human beings of his time in a state of ignorance, refined them through art and knowledge and gave them laws of right conduct.

In accordance with this source, the ballet presents two animated statues who, by the power of harmony, are made susceptible to all the passions of human existence.

Prometheus takes them to Parnassus, to receive instruction from Apollo, god of the arts, who commands Amphion, Arion and Orpheus to teach them music, Melpomene and Thalia tragedy and comedy. Terpsichore aids Pan who introduces them to the Pastoral Dance which he has invented, and from Bacchus they learn invented, and from Baccus they learn his invention, the Heroic Dance.

The music is by Herr van Beethoven.

Ritorni wrote a commentary on Vigano's ballets, and he gives the following summary (which incidentally agrees with occasional stage directions LvB wrote in the sketches in Italian and German):

Overture: Pursued by the mighty wrath of Heaven, Prometheus enters, running through the forest towards his two clay-figures, to whose hearts he hastily applies the celestial fire.

Act 1:

Nr. 1 At the touch of the heavenly flame the statues acquire life and motion, and become man and woman.

Nr. 2 Prometheus, who has fallen exhausted onto a rock, recovers and is delighted at his success, but realizes that neither of the statues have reason for feeling. His loving gestures make no impression and they apathetically sink to the ground beneath a tree.

Nr. 3 The statues become hostile and moving around clumsily, try to escape from Prometheus, who finally seizes them and drags them away.

Act 2:

The scene is Mount Parnassus where Apollo is attended by the Muses, the Graces, Bacchus with his rout and Orpheus, with Amphion and Arion (a bold anachronism, since these three were not yet born).

Nr. 4 Prometheus appears and presents his children to Apollo in the hope that the god will instruct them in the arts and sciences.

Nr. 5 At a sign from Apollo, Euterpe begins to play, supported by Amphion; hearing their melodies, the youthful forms (i.e., the statues) show signs of responding to music and to the beauties of nature around them. Arion and Orpheus join in the consert and finally Apollo himself (presumably the god is a cellist).

Nr. 6 The statues, now awakened to human consciousness, move around animatedly in their exceitement and joy; when they recognize Prometheus, they run to embrace him.

Nr. 7 Terpsichore enters with the Graces, then Bacchus with his train.

Nr. 8 This is the warlike Bacchic dance. Aroused by the sight of weapons, the statues sieze them and are carried away by the desire for military glory. As they try to join in the dance, Melpomene (the Muse of Tragedy) intervenes.

Nr. 9 (subtitled in Beethoven's sketches "La muse tragique") Melpomene takes up a dagger and by mimed actions reveals to the new beings the harsh truth that every human life ends in death. As they recoil in horror, she rushes on Prometheus and stabs him, as punishment for his impiety in exposing his creations to the fate of mortality. In the sketch, Beethoven wrote over the final pp chords the words "Promethe mort" followed by "Les enfants pleurent."

Nr. 10 Presumably this is the rustic dance, led by Pan, during which Prometheus returns to life, while Thalia (the Muse of Comedy)holds masks before the weeping faces of the statues.

There is nothing in the surviving evidence to account for the sequence of movements nos. 11-14 except that no. 12 is marked solo di Gioja and no. 14 solo della Cassentini. Gaetano Gioja was a famous dancer who himself produced ballets, and Cassentini was a ballerina, so these numbers were probably solos for the male and female statues.

Nr. 15 This scene, with three sections is marked solo di Vigano. Surely the maitre de ballet would himself take the principal role and this penultimate number can be identified as the solo allotted to Prometheus.

Nr. 16 The grand Finale is a rondo on the theme used in the op. 35 piano variations and as the basis of the Eroica finale several years later. Although the chronology has been disputed, it seems that the first appearance of this theme was as nr. 7 of the 12 Contredanses, of which nr. 11 in G major is also used as an episode in the Prometheus rondo.



Первая увертюра Бетховена была написана для балета «Творения Прометея», поставленного в Вене знаменитым итальянским балетмейстером С. Вигано в 1801 году. Кроме увертюры, музыка балета состояла из написанных Бетхове­ном интродукции (картина грозы) и шестнадцати танцеваль­ных номеров.

В увертюре Бетховен проявил себя как вполне зрелый по мастерству композитор, но тот героический размах сим­фонизма, который характеризует произведения центрального творческого периода (1802—1812), здесь еще не чувствуется, хотя стремление выявить героический характер музыки уже проявляется в отдельных штрихах. Таковы самые первые рез­кие и решительные аккорды оркестра во вступительном Ада­жио, такова упорно повторяющаяся энергичная синкопиро­ванная ритмика, столь характерная вообще для Бетховена (и его предшественника Керубини). В целом же преобладаю­щий жизнерадостный характер и легкий, изящный стиль из­ложения сближают эту увертюру с образцами венско-классического симфонизма XVIII века. С точки зрения постепенного становления будущего героико-драматического стиля, увер­тюра к «Прометею», в полном согласии с хронологией, за­нимает место между Первой (1800) и Второй (1802) симфо­ниями Бетховена. Уже Адажио увертюры, претендуя на из­вестную значительность, имеет несколько большее значение, чем вступление в Первой симфонии, но сильно уступает глу­боко выразительному и масштабному вступлению ко Второй симфонии. Легкое и стремительное Аллегро, сжатое по фор­ме, не имеет разработки, то есть такого раздела, который позже приобретает центральное значение в бетховенском со­натном аллегро. Здесь также сказались традиции некоторых увертюр конца XVIII века, прежде всего моцартовской увер­тюры к «Свадьбе Фигаро». Бетховен идет несколько дальше, устанавливая тематическую связь с музыкой спектакля: глав­ная тема его увертюры перекликается с финальной сценой балета. Некоторые исследователи (например, П. Беккер) ви­дят в общей концепции бетховенской увертюры отражение балетного сюжета, связывая вступление с первым появле­нием Прометея, а всё Аллегро — с радостью осчастливлен­ных им людей, хотя такая трактовка замысла композитора остается гипотетической. Так или иначе, в своей увертюре к балету Бетховен нащупывает некоторые важные принципы театральной увертюры нового типа, но разрешение проблемы пришло несколькими годами позже.

(Г. В. Крауклис. Об увертюрах Бетховена)

  • 1. К. А. Кузнецов. ТРИ ЭТЮДА О БЕТХОВЕНЕ. (сборник «Из истории советской бетховенианы»)