Beethoven-Centered Season Kicks Off In Celebration of His 250th Anniversary

Left to Right: Miró Quartet; Pianist Jonathan Biss; Pianist Stephen Hough

Left to Right: Miró Quartet; Pianist Jonathan Biss; Pianist Stephen Hough

More than two centuries after it was written, Beethoven’s music continues to inspire contemporary composers and musicians.

To mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, artists across the world are celebrating the composer’s music with wide-ranging performances and projects. Three musicians announced their plans to focus their 2019-2020 season on Beethoven’s music.

Jonathan Biss

American pianist Jonathan Biss, who has been exploring Beethoven’s work for more than a decade, will wrap up multiple projects this season.

In November, Biss will release the final volume of his nine-part recording cycle of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas. The project has been nine years in the making.

Biss will also conclude his online Coursera lecture series, “Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas,” which covers each sonata in depth. His final lectures will appear in the fall and winter.

Commissioned by Biss, the “Beethoven/5” project, which pairs each Beethoven concerto with a new concerto composed in response, will hold its final premiere in Stockholm in February. Australian composer Brett Dean will perform “Gneixendorfer Musik” alongside the work that inspired it, Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto, with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Biss will also focus this season’s recital repertoire on Beethoven’s piano sonatas. Starting in the fall, Biss will perform complete seven-program cycles at Berkeley’s Hertz Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall and Oklahoma’s McKnight Center. He will also perform sonatas and mini-cycles in Philadelphia and New York.

Stephen Hough

Besides Biss, British-Australian pianist Stephen Hough also announced his plans for the 2019-2020 season that focuses on Beethoven.

Hough, who has focused on exploring Beethoven’s five piano concertos, will perform No. 3 in Washington D.C., and No. 4 and 5 in Asheville in the spring. He will also publish his book, “Rough Ideas: Reflections on Music and More,” in February, in which he explores Beethoven’s music.

Miró Quartet

Miro Quartet will celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary with complete string quartets both in concert and on recording this season. Starting July, Miró Quartet will be embarking on a year-long string quartet cycle at Chamber Music Northwest. In November, it will release a complete box set of its recording cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets.

Other artists are also celebrating the anniversary with performances and recordings. A full list can be found online.

— Kristine Liao