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The orchestra Beethoven used for the Eroica was typical for symphonies of that time.  In addition to strings he scored it for two each of flutes, oboes, B clarinets, bassoons, trumpets and 2 timpani.  The only departure from convention in terms of scoring was the addition of another horn for a total of three.  Beethoven commented that, in his view, the horn sounded heroic.  On the title page of Beethoven's fair copy of the score he wrote "the third horn is written so that it can be played by a first as well as a second".

Ex. 1

Two E (E-flat) major chords herald the beginning of the first movement, Allegro con Brio.  These terse, staccato chords not only grab our attention but establish our footing in the tonic.  Some commentators have suggested that the chords themselves are the main subject from which the first melody is derived.  This is a tempting proposition and they do form the nucleus of the first subject however, it should be noted that the earliest sketches for this work utilized dissonant chords.  Beethoven's decision to use tonic chords was arrived at after the first subject was conceived.

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