Ludwig van Beethoven

If ever there was a musician whose battle cry was “freedom” it was Ludwig van Beethoven. His Leonore Overture No. 3 relates the heroic conviction of a woman to free her husband from certain doom. The Piano Concerto No. 2 was composed for his own astonishing virtuoso technique. And the Symphony No. 5 has become so much more than a symphony – its famous first four notes have been turned into a Morse code phrase for "victory." Its propulsive energy and journey escalate towards a finale that has long transcended the concert hall and given hope to oppressed people everywhere.

The Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter and directive written by Beethoven to his brothers in October, 1802, is an important missive, opened after the composer's death in 1827. It depicts his pain and struggle: the diminishing hope that his hearing will improve, a feeling of growing isolation, and his commitment to his art, that utlimately saves his life. By the time he wrote The Heiligenstadt Testament, the already-acclaimed composer had spent six years, starting at age 26 or 27, searching in vain for a “cure.”

Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducts works by Haydn, Beethoven, and Vaughan Williams on this Sunday's Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert broadcast - a live concert recording from March, 2015 at Verizon Hall.

You'll hear one of Haydn’s most ambitious essays, the Symphony No. 92, known as the “Oxford” because he conducted a performance at the illustrious University in July 1791, when he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music.

Yannick talks about Haydn:

Ludwig van Beethoven’s "Les Adieux" or "The Farewell" sonata (Piano Sonata No. 26) is considered the composer's most significant work from the period between 1809 - 1810. It was a time when the Napoleonic Wars continued to bring upheaval to Beethoven’s adopted city of Vienna, the surrounding region, and beyond. Even before his Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-flat Major was composed, Napoleon’s unyielding push for power had left many disillusioned.

Born in 1987, and now in his 20s, he's been called, "...the finest pianist of his generation," by the UK Telegraph, who also commented that, ..."[he] shows that he's set to be one  of this century's big names." He's Igor Levit. And his latest CD of the last five piano sonatas of Ludwig von Beethoven has been creating quite a stir.

Join us on Sunday, March 29 at 1 pm for a broadcast from the final week of The Philadelphia Orchestra’s recent St. Petersburg Festival, celebrating the great master of the third generation, Dmitri Shostakovich.

Join us an hour earlier than usual this Sunday for our monthly broadcast of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Music Director Dirk Brossé leads a program that includes one of his own works, the World War I-inspired Terra Incognita.  The major work on the program is Beethoven's "Pastoral."

Join host Dave Conant, Sunday, October 19, 4 to 5 pm.

Program:

Verdi: La Traviata: Prelude to Act III

Brossé: Terra Incognita

Beethoven: Symphony No. 6, "Pastoral"

For the past few years, pianist Stewart Goodyear has been reconnecting to his musical roots through Beethoven. He performed all 32 of the composer's piano sonatas in a single day in 2011 and 2013, and then over four concerts last month. A stunt? A statement? Goodyear tells The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns it's more like a calling.

Isn't Stewart Goodyear that pianist who specializes in Gershwin?

As Beethoven set about composing his Third Symphony, his hearing was failing and he felt certain his life was about to get worse. That it was born in a moment of despair may help explain why the finished work, for all its grandeur, is extremely odd — employing devices that are by turns aggressive and mundane, somber and practically danceable.

This Sunday at 1 pm it's a re-broadcast of the 2013/204 season-opening concert from the end of September, featuring Beethoven's awe-inspiring Ninth Symphony. With its universal message of freedom and brotherhood, the Ninth is the crowning achievement of Beethoven’s revolutionary works, its famous “Ode to Joy” serving as a message of hope for all mankind. Showcasing the Westminster Symphonic Choir, and conducted by Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin, this performance launched a two-year cycle of all nine Beethoven symphonies.

The Choir will also appear in Beethoven’s rarely heard setting of Goethe’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, as well as the world premiere of the young American composer Nico Muhly’s newly orchestrated Bright Mass with Canons for chorus, orchestra, and featuring the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ.

During intermission, WRTI's Susan Lewis speaks with Yannick about the program, and the new season, and WRTI's Jim Cotter sits down with both tenor Christian Elsner and bass-baritone Shenyang, both of whom play very important roles in this concert.

Not to be missed!  That's this Sunday, July 13 from 1 to 3 pm on WRTI.

Program notes

PROGRAM

BEETHOVEN:  Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, for chorus and orchestra

MUHLY: Bright Mass with Canons

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9 ("Choral")
 

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Twyla Robinson, soprano

Mihoko Fujimura, mezzo-soprano

Christian Elsner, tenor

Shenyang, bass-baritone

The Westminster Symphonic Choir -Mixed chorus

Joe Miller, director

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