The structure and themes of the overture follow the play very generally. The main C minor theme represents Coriolanus’ resolve and war-like tendencies (he is about to invade Rome), while the more tender E-flat major theme represents the pleadings of his mother to desist. Coriolan eventually gives in to tenderness, but since he cannot turn back having led an army of his former enemies to Rome’s gates, he kills himself. It was premiered in March of 1807 at a private concert of the home of Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz. The Symphony No. 4 in B flat and the Piano Concerto No. 4 in G were premiered in that same concert.
Heinrich Joseph von Collin (1771-1811), Austrian dramatist, was born in Vienna, on 26 December 1771. He received a legal education and entered the Austrian ministry of finance where he found speedy promotion. In 1805 and in 1809, when Austria was under the heel of Napoleon, Collin was entrusted with important political missions. In 1803 he was, together with other members of his family, ennobled, and in 1809 madeHofrat. He died on 28 July 1811 in Vienna. His tragedy Regulus (1801), written in strict classical form, was received with enthusiasm in Vienna, where literary taste, less advanced than that of northern Germany, was still under the ban of French classicism. But in his later dramas, Coriolan(1804), Polyxena (1804), Balboa (1806), and Bianca della Porta (1808), he made some attempt to reconcile the pseudo-classic type of tragedy with that of Shakespeare and the German romanticists. As a lyric poet (Gedichte, collected 1812), Collin has left a collection of stirringWehrmannslieder for the fighters in the cause of Austrian freedom, as well as some excellent ballads (Kaiser Max auf der Martinswand, Herzog Leupold vor Solothurn).
His younger brother Matthäus von Collin (1779-1824), was, as editor of the Wiener Jahrbücher für Literatur, an even more potent force in the literary life of Vienna. He was, moreover, in sympathy with the Romantic movement, and intimate with its leaders. His dramas on themes from Austrian national history (Belas Krieg mit dem Vater, (1808); Der Tod Friedrichs des Streitbaren, 1813) may be regarded as the immediate precursors of Grillparzer‘s historical tragedies.
Heinrich’s Gesammelte Werke appeared in 6 vols. (1812-1814); he is the subject of an excellent monograph by F. Laban (1879). See also A. Hauffen, Des Drama der klassischen Periode, ii.2 (1891), where a reprint of Regulus will be found. M. von Collins Dramatische Dichtungen were published in 4 vols. (1815-1817); his Nachgelassene Schriften, edited by J. von Hammer, in 2 vols. (1827). A study of his life and work by J. Wihan will be found in Euphorion, Erganzungsheft, v (1901).
Ultimately, in a classic way, Coriolan under the direction of Herbert von Karajan (1974): The music flows in a more natural way, like a river that has learned its course.