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Octet (Beethoven)

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Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven

This work bears the designation Opus 103.

General Info

Year: 1792 / 1834
Duration: c. 21:50
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Artaria
Cost: Score and Parts – Out of print.

For availability information, see Discussion tab, above.


1. Allegro - 6:35
2. Andante - 6:45
3. Menuetto e Trio - 3:50
4. Finale. Presto - 3:40


Full Score
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
Horn in F I-II


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Octet in E-flat major by Ludwig van Beethoven, Op. 103, is a work for two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, and two horns. Despite its high opus number, it was written in 1792/1793, during Beethoven's early period. Beethoven reworked and expanded the Octet in 1795 as his first String Quintet, Op. 4.

- Program Note by Wikipedia

While the wind band was not a major focus of Beethoven’s output, he did contribute meaningfully to the medium in his early years. This came primarily through his Octet, op. 103, which he composed in 1792 and 1793, while still in the service of the court at Bonn. Like much of the harmoniemusik of the day, it was considered light entertainment to be played at dinner parties, and was written for a fairly typical harmonie ensemble: pairs of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, and horns. Its four movements move in a typical pattern of sonata allegro, andante, minuet (although it really wants to be a scherzo), and a presto finale. His handling of the instruments demonstrates remarkable maturity for a 21-year-old (although the horns in the fourth movement, with their furious arpeggios, might dispute that claim). Despite its early provenance, the Octet was not published until 1834 (seven years after the composer’s death), earning it the very high opus number. Beethoven re-worked much of it into his String Quintet, op. 4 (note the low opus number) in 1795.

- Program Note from Wind Band Literature

By 1792, the year Beethoven wrote his Octet, Harmoniemusik was beginning to lose its place as a chamber ensemble frequently found in the courts and salons of musical Europe. Since the mid-18th century, this combination of two oboes, clarinets, bassoons and horns had played endless evenings of tafelmusik; serenades and divertimenti composed by the masters and transcriptions by lesser composers of whole operas by those same masters. Tonight’s work is an early composition but carries a middle period opus number. Beethoven thought enough of this work to use much of the material in his much admired Septet.

The first movement is in a lean sonata form, dominated by one central theme, buoyant and frothy. The second movement is a set of strophic variations riding on a lilting barcarolle rhythm. The third is marked “Minuet” but the spare melodic language begs the scherzo tempo that Beethoven would pioneer in such movements. And for the finale, a rollicking rondo full of Haydnesque solo gestures. Beethoven’s Octet is a tuneful and sunny summation of the charm and color of classical wind chamber music.

- Program Note by Charles Peltz


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • New England Conservatory (Boston, Mass.) Wind Ensemble (Rachel Brake, conductor) - 15 December 2022
  • Eastman Harmonie (Rochester, N.Y.) - 7 November 2022
  • New Orleans (La.) Chamber Players (Joel Bein, conductor) - 18 May 2022
  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) – 8 July 2020
  • Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisc.) Wind Ensemble (unconducted) – 29 February 2020
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Wind Ensemble (Damon Talley, conductor) – 16 February 2020
  • Philadelphia (Penn.) Wind Symphony Chamber Players (Michael W. Pettis, conductor) – 15 February 2020
  • New England Conservatory (Boston, Mass.) Wind Ensemble (Charles Peltz, conductor) – 13 February 2020
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 7 February 2020
  • Royal College of Music (London, England) Wind Ensemble (Simon Channing, conductor) – 1 November 2019
  • Gettysburg (Penn.) Sunderman Chamber Winds (Russell McCutcheon, conductor) – 16 February 2018
  • University of Southern California Thornton Wind Ensemble (Sharon Lavery, conductor) – 7 October 2016
  • University of Colorado Boulder Symphonic Band (Donald J. McKinney, conductor) – 4 February 2016
  • University of Michigan Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 24 October 2014

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