The year 2020 marks the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the most iconic figures in music. A quintessential ‘Romantic Artist’, an advocate for political reform, a bridge between the classical and romantic eras, and a composer who was driven by deafness to retreat into an interior world:Beethoven is a powerful symbol of hope and his music represents many things to many people. Ringtones bleep Für Elise, protesters in Parliament Square sing the Ode to Joy; Beethoven’s music features in Hollywood movies and was heard at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Beethoven is omnipresent, and the Barbican’s upcoming Beethoven celebrations promise to shine a light on the many different aspects of this complex composer. Any fan of Ludwig Van will surely find something that appeals from this selection from the upcoming Beethoven Weekender (February 1-2): a two day exploration of the many sides of the great composer.
-all nine symphonies performed in 6 concerts across the weekend, each concert introduced by Classic FM presenter and Beethoven expert John Suchet
-actor and Beethoven aficionado Simon Callow will read extracts from Beethoven’s intensely passionate letters, followed by performances of Beethoven’s string quartets played by the Carducci Quartet
-violinist Daniel Sepec plays Beethoven’s own violin in a chamber music concert also featuring violinist Tai Murray on a modern violin. The performance will be presented by broadcaster Sara Mohr-Pietsch.
-pianist Christopher Park performs Beethoven’s bagatelles, short pieces filled with humour as well as profundity, presented by Gerard McBurney
-s t a r g a z e, a network of multi-talented and classically-trained European musicians, led by André de Ridder, presents a contemporary take on Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 with Matthew Herbert’s “Beethoven NEIN!” The piece moves from electronic installation to performances around the Barbican’s foyers and culminates in a participatory performance with the LSO Community Choir in the Barbican Hall
From 27 Jan – 6 Feb, the Barbican hosts the Beethoven exhibition BTHVN on TOUR which DHL developed and realized jointly with Beethoven-Haus Bonn and includes artefacts from the composer’s birth place, such as the composer’s violin, his sketch books, and his original ear trumpet – used by Beethoven as a hearing aid – as well as Andy Warhol’s famous screen-print of the composer.
-screenings of the 70s kids’ cartoon Ludwig – a surreal, mischievous, Beethoven-playing ovoid – with live soundtrack from Guildhall School’s Electronic Music department, with live narration from the voice of the original TV series, Jon Glover.
-in “Beethoven Bites”, young composers respond to Beethoven’s conversation books with bite-sized new works, including an installation that reimagines his Pastoral symphony which will be set amidst the greenery of the Barbican Conservatory which will be open to the public all weekend
-in “Squish Space”, children aged five and under and their families have a chance to discover, touch, play and listen through Beethoven-inspired music