Coriolan Overture, op. 62

Ludwig van Beethoven composed the Coriolan Overture (Coriolan-Ouvertüre or Ouvertüre zu Coriolan), Op. 62, in 1807 for Heinrich Joseph von Collin’s 1804 tragedy Coriolan. The Coriolanus material first appears in Titus Livy’s “Ab urbe condita”.

The Roman patrician Gnaeus Marcius Coriolanus is banished from Rome because he tried to force the people to give back their rights by withholding food. He then allies himself with the Volskern (enemies of Rome) and attacks his hometown. After it became obvious that Rome could no longer be defended, an embassy of noble Roman women, including Coriolanus’ mother and his wife, tried to persuade Coriolanus to withdraw his troops. They did so by pleading and pleading. In the end, his mother demands peace from Coriolanus and appeals to his duties towards his homeland. After giving in to kindness, Coriolanus kills himself because he is unable to turn back after leading an army of his former adversaries to the walls of Rome. (This is different from William Shakespeare’s more well-known play Coriolanus, in which he is killed.)

The overture’s themes and structure often match those of the play. While Coriolanus’ mother begs him to stop, the more sensitive E-flat major theme symbolizes Coriolanus’ tenacity and warlike instincts (he is ready to invade Rome).

Play Coriolan Overture in full length on Soundcloud:   The overture was performed for the first time in March 1807 at a personal concert held at Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz’s residence. At the same concert, the premieres of the Symphony No. 4 in B-flat and the Piano Concerto No. 4 in G were held.