Тhe symphonic overture in C major, opus 115, Beethoven’s Name Day has a rather long and curious background. Despite of its late opus number, it is a middle- period composition. He uses ideas that he had sketched between 1810 and 1814 for composing it. And his earliest „late period” compositions are usually dated to 1816. The overture was completed and performed for the first time on Christmas Day 1815.
As early as 1809, Beethoven began writing an overture of a solemn nature, intended „just in case.” He later came up with the idea of combining it with a chorus on the verses from Schiller’s Ode to joy, so that this work was in fact one of the preliminary stages in the long-term creation of the Ninth Symphony. The „Name Day” overture is dedicated to the Polish Prince Antoni Radziwiłł – a Prussian aristocrat, musician and politician who is remembered for his patronage of the arts. The piece has never become one of Beethoven’s more popular works and is seldom played today. Its title refers to the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the name day of the Austrian emperor Franz I, October 4th. The overture in general was composed in 1814. But despite his best efforts, Beethoven failed to complete it in time for it to be played on that day that year, and its premiere was postponed until the spring. In this situation, the title „Name Day” seems quite conditional.
The overture begins with a majestic introduction, which is replaced by a lively, rather transparent Allegro quasi vivace. It is composed in the rarely used by the composer size 6/8. Unlike Beethoven’s other overtures, here the music has a pronounced scherzo character, Name Day opus 115 is the first Beethoven overture that was not written for the theater.