I november går startskuddet for en flott Beethoven-bonanza med tre konserter som til sammen dekker symfoniene 1, 3, 4, 7 og 9. Vi avslutter med velkjente Beethovens niende symfoni som er en feiring av mennesket og fellesskapet i en stor inkluderende omfavnelse. Verket tar oss med på en reise fra kaos og vanskeligheter til sinnsro og til slutt jublende glede.
Beethoven as a Cycle written by Han-Na Chang
In November, my colleagues and I will climb what will no doubt be the highest summit of all our music making together - the Beethoven Cycle Part I. Over the course of 3 concerts in 3 weeks, we will perform for you Symphonies 1, 3, 4, 7 and 9, paired with Piano Concerto No 3 and the Triple Concerto.
Performing Beethoven as a Cycle will be a fantastic challenge and opportunity: a challenge because Beethoven’s music is like an X-ray; as a musician/orchestra, one cannot hide behind anything, all our musical being is exposed by Beethoven’s soul baring music! And it will be an opportunity to infuse ourselves in Beethoven’s mighty music. Living face to face with this giant’s very first symphony to his last will be PURE JOY!
Beethoven did not give up on his life as a composer despite losing his hearing throughout his adult life. His titanic inner strength is a true Miracle - his resilience, endless striving for higher ideals, the fight against himself for his life’s vocation and love - Music. And this inner strength is the essence of his Music. It shines brilliantly in every single note and makes Beethoven peerlessly great. There is something so universally Good, Just and Right in his music, and these qualities are born out of the furnace of his tremendous suﬀerings and strivings. For me, Beethoven is the highest ideal one can achieve in Music. I am so honored and thrilled to perform these works as an immersive Cycle with my colleagues for you.
Beethoven 1: The New Beginning
The beginning of Beethoven’s journey as a Symphonist, as a mature composer.
The beginning of Romanticism in Music - in which one’s emotions, HUMAN emotions, become more and more important and the mode of expression becomes more and more dramatic and fearless.
The beginning of the Orchestra as a virtuoso instrument, the Symphony as an outpouring of the Composer’s (individual’s) heart to Mankind.
All these Beginnings were put in motion by Ludwig van Beethoven when he wrote his First Symphony. Beethoven’s voice is fresh, energetic, innocent, humorous, yet there are unavoidable flashes of the invincible artistic will and inner determination that will soon awaken and come into full force. So this is how it all began…
Beethoven 3 “Eroica”: composed soon after a letter Beethoven wrote on 6th October 1802, now known as Heiligenstadt Testament, the 32-year-old Beethoven’s Will, Eroica represents a quantum leap in Beethoven’s output as a composer, as well as a “Rebirth” in Beethoven’s own life.
It was written after he chose Life over death, after he chose to strive and do everything in his power to fulfill his artistic destiny and the highest potential in himself. So began his daily promethean battle against the endless suffering imposed on him by his permanently worsening and irreversible hearing loss… determined to overcome all obstacles, he strove to attain the absolute highest ideals by focusing on his Inner Voice… the first major result is Eroica, the greatest symphony ever written.
Everything about this symphony is Great - its compositional mastery, its length, what it demands from the performers, its emotional scope, its message to Humanity… from now on, Beethoven’s life would be devoted to Music, and he would Run his Course to Victory (as a result of his relentless titanic strivings).
Beethoven 4th: oh, how I delight in the 4th symphony! It is a unique Symphony of all the Nine, showing off so many facets of Beethoven. In this Symphony, Beethoven is elegant, playful, dreamy yet passionate and forceful, the changes of mood occuring very fast yet in a completely cohesive and organic manner, made possible by Beethoven’s absolute mastery of compositional technique. In this symphony, his harmonic design is truly adventurous. From the very beginning, he starts off in the wrong tonality and the journey to the right key is a stroke of genius! Of course music like this doesn’t “write itself”… I can just about imagine how much revisions and experiments he must have done to get it like this - so imaginative yet so compact! The 4th is a delightful example of the Giant Beethoven in a good mood in his Music…in this symphony, there is less striving and overcoming, and more playfulness and enjoying… I absolutely adore this symphony.
Beethoven 7th: LIFE force itself. Life affirming. Life confirming. All the Joys of Life, and what makes us move - heartbeat, oxygen, Sun! This amazing symphony holds one trillion mega watts of energy - and in the very heart of it, one of the most sorrowful music Beethoven ever wrote. Perhaps it can be viewed as a self Portrait of Beethoven himself… Always striving to become a better Artist, always wanting to do Good, always loving Mankind, always aiming higher - all this energy and purpose to life - yet bearing his own personal cross of deafness…this Symphony is Beethoven’s intoxication with Life itself - all of the joys that holds its sorrows in the heart…
9th Symphony: Beethoven’s love letter to Humanity and his Summing up of all his beliefs and ideals…
“Go on, brothers, your way,
Joyful, like a hero to victory”
“I embrace you, Millions!
This kiss to all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Do you fall in worship, millions?
Do you know your creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy!
Above stars must He dwell…”
The words are written by Schiller, but I believe Beethoven chose these words out of the millions of words he could have used, because they represent his lifelong beliefs. Already in Heiligenstadt Testament written when he was only 32 in 1802 - 20 years before he started work on the Ninth - we can read Beethoven pouring out his heart: his love for Mankind, his desire to do good, his determination to attain the highest artistic ideals… Running his course to Joyful Victory, kissing the Mankind in his Music, loving God in his sorrow….
The Ninth sums up life philosophy of Beethoven. It is the Soul of Beethoven - it is who he was as a person. Being the most sincere, truthful and honest Artist, he shows his whole being plainly in his works.
And the first three movements that precede this magnificent Finale… when notes simply are music, and ideas and feelings form the notes, everything is as it must be, as it should be… Emotions, technique, notes, sound, music, forms, structures - everything Beethoven wanted to say, and how he wanted to say it - everything is simply One. This IS Music, this IS Beethoven. This is really the highest possible form of Music when Thought itself becomes Sound.
Truly, it is an honor to present this Beethoven Cycle One. I wish these evenings with Beethoven will give you as much Inspiration and Courage as it has given me every day of my life. I sincerely hope that Beethoven speaks to your soul through his music. It is a Privilege and an Honor to serve as a bridge between Beethoven and you.