Beethoven started the composition of his fifth and last piano concerto in 1808, in the wake of the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. The work was finished in 1809, after an interruption due to the bombing of Vienna by Napoleon's troops. Some fourteen years separate this work from the first sketches of the C major concerto. During this time, the brilliant young virtuoso had become a man afflicted by deafness, but intent on pursuing his obstinate struggle for artistic progress and his quest for a perfect fusion between soloist and orchestra. The concerto op. 73, which is dedicated to Archduke Rudolph, can be perceived as a symphony with piano rather than a concerto. When the work was premiered in 1811 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Beethoven's deafness was already too advanced to enable him to perform as a soloist. Friedrich Schneider, who was then organist at the Leipzig University, premiered the work. Carl Czerny, one of Beethoven's former student, gave the first Vienna hearing in February 1812. Beethoven had taken care to write the cadenzas himself, which he wasn't in the habit of doing. The concerto's nickname, however, is not the composer's own, since Beethoven had simply referred to the work as a « Grand Concerto ». The critics of the time did not know what to make out of this remarkable score, which they just described as « Original Full of fantasy Impressive », for lack of more pertinent comments. How indeed could they have fully appreciated this concerto that begins with an extended, seemingly improvised cadenza and in which the soloist and orchestra confront each other in such formidable dialogues? At the end of a slow, almost meditative movement, the rondo explodes with irresistible vitality, and the soloist performs a kind of popular dance with dazzling brilliance.