Beethoven: Christus am Ölberge, Op. 85

Christ on the Mount of Olives

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In the case of the oratorio Christus am Ölberge, Breitkopf & Härtel can finally make amends to Beethoven for a slight committed more than 200 years ago. As in-house composer of the Theater an der Wien, Beethoven was given the chance to perform an oratorio there in the Passion Week of 1803. in no time at all, he had produced the sketch for his first and sole work in this genre.

Christus am Ölberge was premièred on 5 April 1803 in an academy concert at which Beethoven's Symphony no. 2 and his Piano Concerto no. 3 were also heard for the first time. The original edition of the full score was not published until October 1811. Breitkopf & Härtel, which published the first edition, disapproved of the opera-like libretto by Franz Xaver Huber so strongly that it had the texts revised after the first performance without Beethoven's authorization. Beethoven bridled at this high-handed intervention and demanded that the changes be annulled. in vain: the printed version was sent out into the world without change and the work was disseminated with this textual form to this day.

Anja Mühlenwegs new Urtext edition corrects this affront and finally puts forth the Urtext.