On 17 December 2020 the world will celebrate the birthday of one
of the greatest composers who ever lived: Ludwig van Beethoven
Deutsche Grammophon is marking the 250th anniversary of his birth with a wide range of original projects, digital concerts and innovative releases, all under its Beethoven 2020 slogan PLAY ON!
In this special anniversary year, the message from the Yellow Label is: Music has the power to heal us, comfort us and give us courage in challenging times: PLAY ON!
This week, the world will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven. As part of an ambitious year-long anniversary campaign, Deutsche Grammophon and its artists will be contributing to the festivities with a series of events taking place on or around his birthday, 17 December 2020:
- Max Richter – Beethoven – Opus 2020: Inspired by Stockhausen’s unconventional homage to Beethoven “Opus 1970”, the British composer has created his own tribute in the shape of a new orchestral work entitled “Beethoven – Opus 2020”. Made by pianist Elisabeth Brauß with the Beethoven Orchester Bonn and conductor Dirk Kaftan, the world premiere recording of the work will be released digitally on all streaming platforms on 17 December. Max Richter’s “Andante Loops”, a solo piano piece derived from “Opus 2020”, will be premiered on 11 December in Apple Music’s Beethoven Room.
- Yellow Lounge Beethoven 250: After a long, unplanned break due to the global pandemic, DG’s cult classical club night is back. The latest edition will be held in a particularly unusual urban venue: the Beethoven-Haus Bonn. Pianist Seong-Jin Cho and cellist Kian Soltani will join forces with creative all-rounder Christian Löffler at Beethoven’s birthplace on 12 December to perform an exclusive progamme which will be broadcast live on the Deutsche Grammophon YouTube
- Parallels (Beethoven) Shellac Reworks: German musician, producer and visual artist Christian Löffler also presents an experimental electronica tribute to Beethoven. He has reworked recordings of some of the composer’s orchestral works made by the Staatskapelle Berlin and the Berliner Philharmoniker in the 1920s to form the basis of his new tracks, set to appear digitally on 27 November. The digitised historic recordings and Löffler’s reworks are part of the “Shellac Project”, a collaborative initiative established with Google Arts & Culture as part of the Yellow Label’s 120th-anniversary celebrations.
- Krystian Zimerman on DG Stage: Almost three decades on from making his legendary recording of the Beethoven piano concertos with the Wiener Philharmoniker and Leonard Bernstein, Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman will perform the complete cycle again this December with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle. The feat of playing all five concertos in a single, marathon concert has become a highly complex undertaking because of the current travel restrictions. The project means so much to everyone involved, however, that they have all committed themselves to ensuring it takes place as planned. Viewers will be able to enjoy the concertos on 17, 19 and 21 December on DG Stage – The Classical Concert Hall, Deutsche Grammophon’s online destination for exclusive concert performances. The recording of the artists’ concerto cycle will be released digitally in December and on CD and vinyl in April 2021.
- The Final Symphony – A Beethoven Anthology: DG has teamed up with Z2 Comics to produce an innovative graphic novel telling the story of Beethoven’s life, illustrated by world-famous artists. Featuring contributions from Max Richter, pianist Alice Sara Ott and violinist Ezinma, it will be published in December 2020.
As the Beethoven 2020 festivities draw to an end, Deutsche Grammophon can look back on a long and proud association with the composer’s music. Way back in 1913, the label produced a recording of the Fifth Symphony with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Arthur Nikisch. Eleven decades later, it launched its 250th‑anniversary campaign under the slogan PLAY ON! and issued, among other releases, BEETHOVEN – THE NEW COMPLETE EDITION, created as part of an exclusive collaboration with the Beethoven-Haus Bonn. Deutsche Grammophon’s world-class artists have offered up their own personal tributes in the shape of outstanding recordings reflecting the depth and breadth of the composer’s timeless and all-encompassing catalogue. With approximately 60,000 minutes to date – that’s around 40 days’ worth of listening – Deutsche Grammophon has recorded more of Beethoven’s music than any other record label.
Summing up Beethoven’s enduring significance in the world today, star violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter says, “The idea that we can and should live in a brother- and sisterhood is, for me, his major achievement. That’s what makes him a messenger from the past pointing the way to a better future.”
And conductor, pianist and activist Daniel Barenboim underlines the challenges faced by those performing the composer’s music: “He forces you to go to the edge, to the precipice and then the abyss. That takes a tremendous amount of courage.”
Discover Beethoven on Deutsche Grammophon:
Elīna Garanča, Malcolm Martineau – Zärtliche Liebe, WoO 123 (Musical Moments)
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