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Dr. Silvia Kargl
The Beethoven Anniversary Year 2020 features the Vienna Philharmonic performing the complete Beethoven Symphonies in Paris, Hamburg, Munich and twice in Vienna.
Beethoven Cycle in Paris
Beethoven Cycle in Hamburg
Beethoven Cycle in Munich
Beethoven Cycle in Vienna
Additional Beethoven Concerts
Throughout the 178-year history of the Vienna Philharmonic, the compositions of Ludwig van Beethoven have held particular significance. Even though at the time of the orchestra's first concert in 1842 Beethoven had already been dead for 15 years, the connection was still very much in existence due to the founding generation's participation in concerts and personal friendships with the master himself.
According to the most recent research, several subsequent Philharmonic musicians took part as members of the Court Opera Orchestra in the premiere of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, organized by the composer himself, on May 7, 1824, at Vienna's Kärntnertor Theater. Membership in the Court Opera Orchestra became a pre-requisite for acceptance into the Vienna Philharmonic with the orchestra's founding in 1842.
That notwithstanding, continuity can also be found even in the 15 years between Beethoven's death and the founding of the Vienna Philharmonic. In 1833, composer and conductor Franz Lachner initiated the first symphonic concert series with members of the Court Opera Orchestra that focused primarily on performances of Beethoven's compositions.
The main composition in the Vienna Philharmonic's first concert on March 28, 1842, was Beethoven's 7th Symphony under the baton of Otto Nicolai, who until leaving Vienna in 1847 also conducted the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 9th Symphonies. Beethoven's 7th Symphony was also heard at the first Vienna Philharmonic subscription concert in January 1860 under Carl Eckert.
In the 1870s, the Vienna Philharmonic had contact once again with the family of Ludwig van Beethoven, when it provided financial assistance for the widow of Beethoven's nephew, Karl. The correspondence with Caroline Naske-Beethoven is preserved in the orchestra's Historical Archives.
Otto Dessoff, who was the Vienna Philharmonic's resident conductor from 1860 to 1875, was the first among 12 conductors in the history of the orchestra until now to conduct all nine of Beethoven's symphonies. The others are Hans Richter, Clemens Krauss, Hans Knappertsbusch and Leonard Bernstein. In addition are conductors of Beethoven symphony cycles in which all symphonies were performed in several concerts in one location. In the Vienna Musikverein, Felix Weingartner conducted the first of 16 such cycles in the history of the orchestra in 1918. This was followed by cycles with Wilhelm Furtwängler in London (1948), Carl Schuricht in Lyon (1956), Claudio Abbado in New York, Tokyo and Paris (1987/88), Simon Rattle in Berlin, Tokyo and twice in Vienna (2001/02) and Christian Thielemann in Vienna, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo and Moscow (2008-13).
In conjunction with these performances, the orchestra's historical archives will hold lectures in these cities with the title "The Vienna Philharmonic and Beethoven's Nine Symphonies". These lectures will also be held at the house of Beethoven's birth in Bonn and in Baden-Baden.
In addition, the 2019/20 Vienna Philharmonic Chamber Music Cycle in the Vienna State Opera is dedicated entirely to Beethoven's chamber music compositions.
Chamber Music Series
Complete recordings of all Beethoven symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic have been conducted by Karl Böhm, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Leonard Bernstein, Claudio Abbado, Simon Rattle, Christian Thielemann and, most recently, Andris Nelsons.
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