Next year is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven, so expect a year of grand music events.
It will be difficult to avoid the embarrassment of riches in concerts and events celebrating perhaps the greatest composer of them all. Each region’s orchestras, choirs, groups and solo artists aren’t letting this opportunity go by without presenting a smorgasbord of Beethoven’s music, in a variety of formats and venues throughout the year.
Beethoven remains one of the world’s most loved composers, exalted for his brilliance, musical and personal complexity, and determination to overcome challenges, including total deafness. He was voted Australia’s most popular composer on Classic FM’s Top 100 Composers survey in 2019, edging out JS Bach.
With so much going on to celebrate his birth in 2020, it’s time to make plans for a year of brilliant music near you. Wherever you are, you’ll find a venue filled with the excitement of our best musicians honouring the genius of Beethoven.
These events will undoubtedly be hugely popular. Best to book tickets early.
Australian Chamber Orchestra – Beethoven Symphonies 1, 2 and 3
8–17 February 2020
The Australian Chamber Orchestra will kick off festivities in its first national concert tour of 2020 with a full program of Beethoven’s first three symphonies.
The ACO has recruited the services of extra players from the Australian National Academy of Music to add power and majesty to this concert series. The concerts will open with his first, almost playful, Symphony No.1, followed by Symphony No.2 – surprisingly, this will be the ACO’s first live performance of Beethoven’s second symphony.
The second half of the program will feature one of Beethoven’s most loved pieces of music – Symphony No.3, the Eroica – initially dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte.
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – Symphony No.9
The MSO is taking a completely different approach to presenting Beethoven’s masterpiece for this concert. Along with the world premiere of MSO Composer in Residence Deborah Cheetham’s ‘Dutala (Star Filled Sky)’, Beethoven’s Ninth will be accompanied by Circa, a 10-artist circus performance directed by Yaron Lifschitz, which will present the music with dramatically physical choreography.
Under the baton of Benjamin Northey, Latvian soprano Maija Kovaļevska, mezzo-soprano Jacqueline Dark, tenor Paul O’Neill and bass Warwick Fyfe will be joined by the MSO Chorus.
Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra – Symphonies 1–9
The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra is joining with the Auckland Arts Festival to present a series of four special concerts covering all of Beethoven’s symphonies over nine nights.
Led by Maestro Giordano Bellincampi, these concerts will culminate in a performance of the Ninth Symphony, with Kiwi soloists Madeleine Pierard, Kristin Darragh, Amitai Pati and Teddy Tahu Rhodes.
Canberra Symphony Orchestra – Symphony No.3 Eroica
The power of Beethoven’s mighty Eroica will bring together conductor Jessica Cottis and the Canberra Symphony Orchestra in May to celebrate Beethoven’s ‘middle’ period.
Selby & Friends – The Ghost
Kathryn Selby will celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday with a special concert of The Ghost in July, accompanied by guest violinist Harry Ward and her long-time collaborator, ACO Principal Cellist Timo-Veikko Valve.
Other highlights are the Piano Trio in Eb in May and An Die Ferne Geliebte Op 98 in November.
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra – Symphonies 1–9
The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is taking Beethoven’s symphonies on tour to Auckland and Wellington in a series of four concerts in each city.
NZSO music director Edo de Waart will conduct all nine symphonies during this marathon tour.
Queensland Symphony Orchestra – Beethoven Symphony No.9
Queensland Symphony Orchestra has a lively calendar of Beethoven planned for 2020. The Orchestra has managed to engage renowned Australian conductor Simone Young to lead a special performance of Beethoven’s No.9 in August. The first half of the concert will feature pianist Jan Lisiecki performing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.4.
Also on the QSO’s calendar is a performance of Beethoven's Triple Concerto by Emily Sun, Caleb Wong and Aura Go in February; in May, violinist Guy October will perform the Violin Concerto; Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony under Daniel Blendulf will be performed in October; and Conductor Laureate Johannes Fritzsch will conduct Piano Concerto No5, the ‘Emperor’, in November.
Sydney Symphony Orchestra – Symphony No.9
7–9 August 2020
What would a celebration of Beethoven be without the mighty Symphony No.9 – ‘Ode to Joy’?
Famed American conductor and violinist Marin Alsop will lead the SSO in the magnificent Ninth as part of a global project, along with Indigenous representatives who will present traditional music as part of the concert performance.
This concert is one part of a music extravaganza that will take place on five continents with orchestras in New Zealand, the US, England, Brazil, Austria and South Africa.
The concert series “highlights the brotherhood of man and seeks to bring diverse communities together”.
Marin Alsop is the music director of both the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, as well as chief conductor designate of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra – Symphonies 1 to 9
The ASO is taking on Beethoven with gusto. Principal guest conductor Mark Wigglesworth will lead the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday with performances of all nine of his symphonies in just 10 days.
Darwin Symphony Orchestra – Symphony No.3 Eroica
Joining Darwin Symphony Orchestra for this performance is conductor Jonathan Tooby, leading the Orchestra through the Eroica.
Also on the program is guitarist Craig Ogden playing the hugely popular Concierto de Aranjuez by Rodrigo.
West Australian Symphony Orchestra – Fidelio
The WASO is staging Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, in concert next year, under Israeli maestro Asher Fisch, and he will also conduct the Sixth, the Pastoral, and choral work Missa Solemnis in June.
In November, the Orchestra will present Beethoven’s Piano Concertos with pianist Behzod Abduraimov.
It’s a jammed diary of Beethoven events next year – wherever you are – so take advantage of the celebrations to learn more about one of the greatest composers of all time, as you enjoy performances by Australasia’s finest musicians.