Beethoven's 250th

December 30, 2019, 11:44 AM · Beethoven was born in December 1770, which makes 2020 the 250th anniversary of his birth, and there will be numerous performances scheduled in celebration.

Are you planning on playing or doing anything special to co-commemorate the event this year? Listen to and learn more Beethoven? Finally play the concerto or try a sonata for the first time? Play the "Minuet in G" in Suzuki Book 2 (from memory after years)? Watch "A Late Quarter"? All of the above?

Or perhaps prepare instead for the 200th anniversary of his death in 2027?

Replies (22)

Edited: December 30, 2019, 7:28 PM · Good question! With my trio, we are doing the complete trios over the 19/20 and 20/21 season, and I'm doing the Triple Concerto, Violin Concerto, and violin sonata cycle. Not that Beethoven needs any boost in the programming discussions, but it's a great excuse to trot out his oeuvre!
December 30, 2019, 1:20 PM · My son's orchestra did the Beethoven Great Fugue (chamber orch version of the string quartet) on their first concert and are doing Beethoven Violin Concerto in their final concert. His string quartet is also playing the Op. 59 Fugue. My daughter's program isn't doing anything.
December 30, 2019, 2:30 PM · ... your trio is doing the Violin Concerto?
December 30, 2019, 9:40 PM · Nothing specifically timed for the 250th, I think, but OU Sinfonietta will be doing the Pastorale in February.
If I get organized, I may also try to write some cadenzas for the Concerto next year and perhaps even enter a competition with it at school, just to stay sharp.
December 30, 2019, 11:33 PM · Chicago Symphony is doing a whole program that will include Beethoven 4 through 9, plus they had Kavakos play it with the full symphony earlier this year.

I should really see about hearing some of his late quartets...

Edited: December 31, 2019, 7:14 AM · 250th?? Oh my, I stopped counting at the 9th. He has been a busy bee....
December 31, 2019, 7:44 AM · Mostly decomposing up to now, I’m afraid. Not sure if he’s erased all nine yet...
Edited: December 31, 2019, 1:58 PM · Elise :)
James, late quartets are super complicated. I was very grateful that when the St. Lawrence String Quartet performed here in Blacksburg a few years ago, Geoff Nuttall took about 10 minutes to explain (with demonstrations) the various themes and "what to listen for." Of course the whole piece can't be "explained" in 10 minutes, but it's nice to have a few anchor points.
December 31, 2019, 2:04 PM · Teaching some of my students how to play the violin arrangement of "Fur Elise."
December 31, 2019, 6:57 PM · George - please let them know that Beethoven wrote that for me. I'm just a little older than I look. :)
December 31, 2019, 9:21 PM · Well, Beethoven was well ahead of his time.
Edited: January 1, 2020, 12:14 AM · Norman Lebrecht of Slipped Disc promises to "examine one Beethoven work every day for the next four months" in this lovely homage:

January 1, 2020, 6:11 AM · ‘Teaching some of my students how to play the violin arrangement of "Fur Elise."‘

If they were viola students, you could use the edition that begins with the long, fast trill. ??

Edited: January 1, 2020, 1:10 PM · My community orchestra will be performing the Pastorale symphony in the spring. Although Beethoven is a regular occurence in our program, the Pastorale is perhaps somewhat more ambitious than usual.
January 2, 2020, 8:16 PM · "I should really see about hearing some of his late quartets..."

Obviously pretty easy to do online, but hearing them live has its own advantage - by forcing you to focus your attention on it instead of other things, like

Should be several opportunities for that this year, e.g.

Quatuor Ébène will be performing all the Beethoven quartets in 2020. I'm looking forward to hearing them again in Toronto in April, when they'll play Op. 132 and an Op. 18.

Too bad I won't hear them play Op. 131 yet, but they're playing Op. 132 a few times around the world, including in Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, so might have something interesting to say in it.

Edited: January 2, 2020, 8:47 PM · The Concordia University Irvine Simfonia is going to perform for his birthday on Saturday, March 28th, 2020. Here is the link provided below about the event:

Edited: January 3, 2020, 5:15 AM · Thanks J Ray, for the Norman Lebrecht link, which I did not know before. I have read his Mahler book a couple of time: it offers some valuable stories and insights.

On Beethoven, to chip in my pennyworth, I am working through genres in various ways. I am doing the string quartets in order - Italian String Quartet first and then the ABQ. The piano concertos I will also listen to in order. The symphonies I am doing with an emphasis on personal bias: I plan to listen to 3 (Eroica) and 7 many times, with a particular leaning towards the older Otto Klemperer/Philharmonia recordings. The slower spacious tempi are majestic, and you can hear multiple details in the strings' bowing. I seem to recall a BBC television interview with Klemperer, in which Richard Baker asked why he used a score for music that was so familiar to him. Maestro Klemperer replied, 'Because, unlike many other conductors, I can actually read a score.'

I haven't figured out yet how to deal with the piano or violin sonatas, but I am reckoning on giving the violin concerto pride of place!

¡Feliz año nuevo!

January 11, 2020, 12:57 PM · A bit late, but Happy 250th Birthday to Beethoven! I would like to learn the Beethoven violin concerto as it is very beautiful and is very strong. Also, learning Beethoven's 29th piano sonata, "Hammerklavier", would be a privilege, and that piece just simply sweeps along the listener into the music. Once again, Happy Birthday to Ludwig Van Beethoven.
January 12, 2020, 11:51 AM · Eric I know you posted about Wieniawski 2 and Mendelssohn and in my opinion Beethoven is of a level on its own. Not even in the same stratosphere. Also hammerklavier is something only the very finest pianists attempt however I know nothing of your piano playing.
January 12, 2020, 2:04 PM · Yes I know about how difficult it is. I think they are nice however, and would like to play them. Cheers!
January 13, 2020, 12:13 PM · My Beethoven anniversary will consist on learning at least one of the three movements of his piano sonata 17, Op. 31#2 "Tempest". I'd like to study the complete sonata, but given the little time I have for practicing, it's unrealistic if I also want to study pieces by other composers.

As for the violin, I'm not prepared yet to tackle any Beethoven on it... except for the Suzuki#2 Menuet (I'm currently learning Vivaldi A minor).

Edited: January 13, 2020, 12:49 PM · This Saturday we're going to hear three Beethoven quartets (performed by James Ehnes' quartet, as part of the Seattle Chamber Music Society's winter festival), and next Thursday we'll go hear Midori play four sonatas with Jean-Yves Thibaudet. More Beethoven to come as the year progresses, I'm sure.

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