The first full program I ever conducted was in July 1980. The program began with Stravinsky's Instrumental Miniatures, then Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings and, after intermission, Beethoven's Symphony no. 3.
I remember studying my Beethoven score on BART trains, on the bus, taking it everywhere with me. Now, in hindsight, I realize it was pretty nervy of me to conduct this magnum opus on my first concert.
That was nearly thirty years ago.
I've conducted the Eroica several times since then.
But having done it several times does not make it easier to perform.
[This would be, and is, true for most other works.]
But not for the Eroica.
Maybe it's because, after he wrote all nine of his symphonies, Beethoven said the Third Symphony was his favorite.
Maybe it's because, just as the Rite of Spring ushered in a new era in music in the 20th century, the Eroica was a turning point in the 19th.
Or maybe because it's just hard, period.
But what a piece.
What a piece!