Beethoven's Coriolan Overture is based on the play by Shakespeare as well as the one by Heinrich von Collin to whom the overture is dedicated. It is one of the last tragedies of Shakespeare that is known for its military and political themes. Caius Martius is a proud Roman General who does not hold himself back in displaying his outspoken and arrogant contempt of the Roman extremities. The Tribunes banish him and he raises an army to take his revenge on Rome. He is then given the cognomen or the third name of Coriolanus. He represented political honesty in a corrupt world. The play by Shakespeare was written in 1608.
Beethoven scored his overture brilliantly with all the subtleties included with a resigned ending on the contrabass pizzicato representing Coriolanus' suicide. The definitive performance of this overture is one attached here by Wilhelm Furtwangler with the Berliner Philharmoniker in the 1943 performance. The timpani accentuation and the crescendo effect has not been achieved by any other conductor after him. Karajan follows next with the Berliner Philharmoniker and the third goes to Otto Klemperer with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London.