Beethoven's "Eroica" for saxophone quartet
Does it really work to play a complete Beethoven symphony with only 4 saxophones? Now, better try than worry, and thus I arranged Beethoven's Third Symphony in E flat major, op. 55, better known as "Eroica" for saxophone quartet.
It actually worked, though a saxophone quartet cannot quite match the sound of a symphony orchestra, several structures and details become visible, which are often overheard in the orchestra version. At least, this arrangement offers a new point of view and enables us saxophonists to play and enjoy this greatest of all Beethoven symphonies (his own words...)
This is an arrangement of the entire symphony, not just excerpts. It takes at least 45 minutes to play completely!
This arrangement demands quite a lot from the players, but should be managable for ambitious amateurs, about level 4 on a 5 level scale. The biggest problem is probably stamina and embouchure, since the movements are fairly long (upto 14 minutes) and there are few rests for the players.
To achieve the required sounds contrasts, the saxophones often have to be played in their extreme registers (but only a few altissimo notes are required), some unusual inversions and large leaps occur, too. All players are challenged, last but not least, the baritone.
Lasting 14 minutes (when repeating the exposition), this is the longest movement, difficulty 4. There are some g''' and flutter tongue in the baritone part, which also requires low A, and some tremolos for soprano, alto, and tenor.
Quite a lot of tutti parts could not be simply transcribed from the orchestra score, but had to be rewritten entirely to achieve the needed effect.
Second movement — Marcia funebre
With 12.5 minutes, this movement is quite long, too, somewhat easier technically, but more difficult regarding tone quality, difficulty 4. There's one g''' and slap tongue in the tenor part, again low A is required for the baritone.
Third movement — Scherzo
This is the easiest movement, difficulty 3-4, in spite of this, the lengthy staccato passages to be played pianissimo must not be underestimated. In the Trio, the sound of the saxophones comes quite close to the original french horn trio.
Fourth movement — Finale
Technically the most demanding movement, difficulty 4-5. Some g''' and a''' in the alto part, one a''' for the soprano in a fast staccato run. The variation form and the fugato passages make this movement especially interesting.
Arranging this work took several months, nights worked thru, and rehearsals. Therefore I cannot offer this arrangement for free. I hope you understand this.
You can buy the sheet music at the web shop of Mr. Zerluth in Germany. Though the web site is in German, you should be able to work your way, or just call the telephone number listed there.
Each movement is available separately, including transposing score and parts, or order all 4 movements together for a lower price.
sheet music samples
In one of our concerts, we made a life recording of the Scherzo.
If you plan to play this arrangement in concert, I ask you to contact me. Basically, you can do this, but I'd be happy if you can record it and send me a copy. If you don't mind, I'd like to add it to this page. By the way, this arrangement is free of GEMA.
Of course, I'm looking forward to your comments, positive or negative!