Ludwig van Beethoven

Four notes (the first three of which are the same) say “classical music” to more people around the world than any other bit of music anyone else has ever written. When Ludwig van Beethoven finally chose those notes, he not only figured out the beginning of his Fifth Symphony and branded classical music forever, he also staked a claim—with an audacity and a power unlike anyone else before or since—to be recognized as “the” composer of classical music.

This Sunday, January 22nd, at 1 pm, newly appointed music director of the National Symphony, Gianandrea Noseda conducts The Philadelphia Orchestra in a program that whirls from dance to jazz to Beethoven.

Credit: Benjamin Ealovega

Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony highlights The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert re-broadcast on WRTI this Sunday, November 6th at 1 pm, but there’s so much more. The Violin Concerto of John Williams and Ravel’s well-loved Pavane round out a brilliant program conducted by the Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor Stéphane Denève.

Imagine you're a teenager in Beijing in the 1960s and '70s, during the Cultural Revolution. Everything that's deemed Western and bourgeois is banned — so listening to a 78 rpm recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, powerfully transformative as it might be, is off limits.

Credit Mathias Botho

Join us to hear the first concert in The Philadelphia Orchestra’s "Music of Vienna" series, recorded live last January at Verizon Hall. Pianist Jan Lisiecki, an audience favorite at only 20 years old, will be the soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4.

Mention the music of Vienna, and some of us automatically think of a waltz. But as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the city was a musical magnet for composers, especially from the late 18th century through the 19th and beyond.


Portrait by Thomas Hardy, 1791

Join us on Sunday from 5 to 6 pm as we present August’s concert broadcast by the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, opening with an archival recording made at the Walnut Street Theater, with the orchestra’s founder and then–music director Marc Mostovoy conducting. Current music director Dirk Brossé conducts the second half of the program, which was recorded at the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater in February, 2011.

The second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7—the Allegretto—has captivated listeners since the symphony’s 1813 premiere, when it was so popular that the orchestra used it as an encore. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on why this particular movement continues to engages us.

Discovering Beethoven?

Mar 2, 2016

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, March 5th, 5 to 6 pm... It's a composer we’ve barely touched on in Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, and with good reason. Beethoven isn’t a discovery to us (although, thankfully, people new to classical music discover him all the time).

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.

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