Happy Birthday, Beethoven!
Ludwig van Beethoven was born on December 17, 1770, in Bonn, Germany. Though 239 years may elapsed since then, the music that Beethoven brought into the world is as timely as ever - and as inspiring.
What better way to celebrate than revisiting some of the composer’s most deeply felt masterpieces - this selection of choice vocal works that span Beethoven’s career.
One of Beethoven’s great concert works, “Ah Perfido” was composed early in his career, in 1796. This concert aria (or scene-and-aria) with text by Metastasio has been described as “the cry of a woman who has been betrayed in love.” You might even call it a mini-opera. This program features soprano Alison Hargan and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gianluigi Gelmetti.
Beethoven's only oratorio ("Christ On the Mount of Olives"), composed in 1802, centers on a very human Jesus. This video features Alison Hargan, Manfred Jung, Matthias Holle, the Südfunk Choir, and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gianluigi Gelmetti, and was recorded at the 500-year-old Gothic Amanduskirche in southern Germany.
Composed 1808, the "Choral Fantasy," as it is known, clearly foreshadows the Ninth Symphony, to be completed sixteen years later, in both he musical materials and theme: humanity united through the arts. This program features pianist Gerhard Oppitz and the Südfunk Choir, with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gianluigi Gelmetti.
One of the world’s greatest choral works, the Missa Solemnis was composed in 1819-’23, in the same period as the composer’s Ninth Symphony. This live recording is from the 500-year-old gothic Amanduskirche in southern Germany, featuring Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Marjana Lipovsek, Josef Protschka, and Kurt Rydl, with Michael Gielen conducting the Südwestfunk Symphony Orchestra and Prague Philharmonic Choir.
... And there’s lots more Beethoven on Classical TV:
• Glenn Kurtz’s droll tour of the maestro’s Vienna residences, “Immortal Evicted.”
• Michael Clive’s witty essay on the nine symphonies - and our own “Six Degrees of Mozart, Beethoven-style - in “Everything Beethoven on Classical TV.”
... Also featured in our library of classical video treasures:
Performing live at the St. Francis Auditorium in Santa Fe: Zukerman and Neikrug, on violin and piano, perform Beethoven's Sonata No.9 in A Op.47.
Wig stealing, sword fighting, egg throwing and drunkenness in front of presidents ... just a few examples of the astonishing behavior that some of our favorite composers indulged in.
This live recording, from the Alte Oper Frankfurt, features the Japanese maestro Seiji Ozawa conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 9