Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)

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01*2008012820090209

Donald Macleod explores the extraordinary musical landscape of Beethoven's last 12 years - known to posterity as his late period.
1/5. He focuses on two ground-breaking sonatas, the first ever song-cycle and a couple of tiny canons, and also on the composer's personal life, the beginning of a long and acrimonious custody battle.
Kurz ist der Schmerz, WoO 166
Brauchle, Linke, WoO 167
Members of the Kammerchor der Berliner Singakademie
Sonata No 4 in C for piano and cello, Op 102 No 1
Mstislav Rostropovich (cello)
Sviatoslav Richter (piano)
An die ferne Geliebte, Op 98
Peter Schreier (tenor)
Walter Olbertz (piano)
Piano Sonata No 28 in A, Op 10
Wilhelm Kempff (piano)

01180320100510

Donald Macleod on the year 1803, when Beethoven began to accept his increasing deafness.

Aside from his music, Beethoven is perhaps best known for his devastating loss of hearing and infamous love life.

Donald Macleod examines how this complex man was affected by such crises, set against the backdrop of the turbulent years through which he lived.

In each episode Donald concentrates on the music and events in and around one significant year, beginning in 1803.

By then, aged 33, Beethoven's hearing had already begun to deteriorate and the previous year he wrote of his despair and thoughts of suicide.

It marked a change in his music and a new 'heroic style' emerged, reflected in the virtuosic Waldstein Sonata and in the Eroica Symphony, originally written in Napoleon's honour.

In the second programme, Donald reflects on 1809, the year Napoleon invaded Vienna.

We'll hear from the Les Adieux Piano Sonata and majestic Emperor Piano Concerto, both of which Beethoven wrote for his friend and patron, Archduke Rudolph.

Beethoven had numerous amorous encounters over the years, but things came to a head in 1812.

That year he wrote a love letter to his 'Immortal Beloved' whose identity has given rise to endless speculation.

In the third programme Donald introduces songs written for the woman thought to be the intended recipient, Antonie Brentano, and ends the programme with the final major work of that year, his 8th symphony.

Beethoven's only opera Fidelio is one of the most intense and moving of all music dramas, a celebration of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, and it forms the focus of the fourth programme.

In the fifth and final programme, Donald looks at 1822.

The increasingly reclusive composer wrote his last piano sonata that year and his Handelian overture The Consecration of the House.

But his greatest project, which took some five years to complete, was the Missa Solemnis, his largest choral work and for Beethoven, the supreme challenge of his life.

01Beethoven Masters Vienna20120723

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Beethoven, taking a snapshot view through the window of five of the composer's thirty-two piano sonatas. When Beethoven moved to Vienna in 1792, for the first few years he was seen to be more of a pianist than a composer. This viewpoint changed, but the piano would always be a significant instrument for Beethoven, who went on to compose not only piano sonatas amongst his prodigious output, but also a number of piano concertos, and other works for the instrument. Donald Macleod focuses on five of the piano sonatas, including the Pastoral and the Appassionata, and takes a look at Beethoven's life during these periods, including the other works he composed at the time.

By 1792, Beethoven felt he needed to move on from the musical opportunities offered by his native city of Bonn. Wanting to stretch his wings and pursue his career as a composer, he turned his attention to the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Vienna. Beethoven didn't launch himself straight into the Viennese public eye as a composer, but instead made his initial impression there as a pianist, performing one of his early concertos.

Life in Vienna was hard to begin with, with Beethoven relying on financial support from the Elector in Bonn. This eventually dried up and Beethoven was fortunate that Prince Lichnowsky came to his aid, allowing the composer to move into the Prince's house, and introducing him to the leading musicians in Vienna. Although Beethoven often found his relationship with the Prince stifling, he dedicated a set of three Piano Trios to him, including the Piano Trio No.1 in E flat.

Beethoven had now launched himself into publication. This was a carefully timed event, so that not only was the Viennese public treated to his opus 1 Piano Trios, and opus 3 String Trios, but also his set of three Piano Sonatas opus 2, including the Sonata no.1 in F minor. The press declared that with the publication of these three sonatas, Beethoven was now assured a place in "the Holy of Holies of Art".

Donald Macleod explores 1795, when Beethoven was proclaimed the 'next Mozart' in Vienna.

01Bonn *20060306

Donald Macleod surveys Beethoven's formative years. At the Elector's court in Bonn, the old system of patronage had supported his grandfather, a bass singer who became Director of Music and his father, a tenor, before him.
Beethoven became the third generation of musicians in his family to serve the Elector, but his desire for a measure of independence soon reared its head.
Third Symphony (Eroica), First movement
Berlin Philharmonic
Herbert von Karajan (conductor)
Piano Quintet in E flat, Op 16
Netherlands Wind Ensemble
Peter Donohoe (piano)
Sonata for piano, No 21 in C, Op 53 (Waldstein); 3rd movement: Rondo - Allegretto moderato
Maurizio Pollini (piano).

01Bonn Beginnings20131223

01Bonn Beginnings2013122320150420 (R3)

Donald Macleod explores Beethoven's apprentice years and presents neglected early works.

Beethoven's home town of Bonn is where he learnt to be a composer. Donald Macleod tells the story of the maestro's apprentice years, and presents some of his neglected early works.

If Bonn had had a child protection unit in the 1770s, its officers would probably have been frequent callers at 24 Rheingasse, the Beethoven family home. A neighbour might have heard little Ludwig calling out from the cellar where he had been locked by his drunkard father Johann, or witnessed one of the regular beatings Johann administered to 'encourage' his son to practice the piano. Yet from this abusive background, Ludwig van Beethoven emerged as the greatest musician of his age - the composer who absorbed the Classical legacy of Haydn and Mozart, then utterly transformed it. This week, Donald Macleod charts the course of this transformation in a series of five extended snapshots of Beethoven's life and work, from his first attempts at composition to the extraordinary productions of his final years.

Today's programme surveys Beethoven's last ten years in Bonn, before his permanent move to Vienna in 1792. Along with his father, the cast of characters includes his grandfather, also named Ludwig, a previous court kapellmeister; his teacher, Christian Gottlob Neefe, who spotted Beethoven's prodigious talent and did everything he could to foster it; his mother, whose death in 1787 left deep scars on the 16-year-old composer; Maximilian Franz, Elector of Cologne and Beethoven's employer in his post as a sprucely liveried court musician; Mozart, with whom Beethoven may or may not have studied briefly; and Papa Haydn, with whom Beethoven was to have an uneasy pupil-teacher relationship in Vienna. The musical soundtrack includes an early piano quartet that Beethoven would later mine for material when he came to write his first published piano sonatas, and two early masterpieces: an ambitious set of 24 Variations on an operatic air by Righini, and the Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II, of which Brahms remarked, when the manuscript resurfaced almost a century later, "it is Beethoven through and through".

01Bonn Beginnings20131223

01Bonn Beginnings20131223

Beethoven's home town of Bonn is where he learnt to be a composer. Donald Macleod tells the story of the maestro's apprentice years, and presents some of his neglected early works.

If Bonn had had a child protection unit in the 1770s, its officers would probably have been frequent callers at 24 Rheingasse, the Beethoven family home. A neighbour might have heard little Ludwig calling out from the cellar where he had been locked by his drunkard father Johann, or witnessed one of the regular beatings Johann administered to 'encourage' his son to practice the piano. Yet from this abusive background, Ludwig van Beethoven emerged as the greatest musician of his age - the composer who absorbed the Classical legacy of Haydn and Mozart, then utterly transformed it. This week, Donald Macleod charts the course of this transformation in a series of five extended snapshots of Beethoven's life and work, from his first attempts at composition to the extraordinary productions of his final years.

Today's programme surveys Beethoven's last ten years in Bonn, before his permanent move to Vienna in 1792. Along with his father, the cast of characters includes his grandfather, also named Ludwig, a previous court kapellmeister; his teacher, Christian Gottlob Neefe, who spotted Beethoven's prodigious talent and did everything he could to foster it; his mother, whose death in 1787 left deep scars on the 16-year-old composer; Maximilian Franz, Elector of Cologne and Beethoven's employer in his post as a sprucely liveried court musician; Mozart, with whom Beethoven may or may not have studied briefly; and Papa Haydn, with whom Beethoven was to have an uneasy pupil-teacher relationship in Vienna. The musical soundtrack includes an early piano quartet that Beethoven would later mine for material when he came to write his first published piano sonatas, and two early masterpieces: an ambitious set of 24 Variations on an operatic air by Righini, and the Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II, of which Brahms remarked, when the manuscript resurfaced almost a century later, "it is Beethoven through and through".

01Family Affairs20111212

Donald Macleod explores Beethoven's relationship with friends, family and women.

Donald Macleod introduces the life and music of this complex character during the turbulent years 1806 - 1812 when he produced some of the greatest masterpieces of his life.

Donald examines Beethoven's relationships with friends, family, women, patrons and publishers, and with the city which he made his home - Vienna.

1806 was a difficult year for Beethoven on a personal level - he tried unsuccessfully to prevent the marriage of his brother Caspar Carl to a woman he thoroughly disapproved of, in the process greatly damaging their already fragile relationship.

But it was also a highly productive year for Beethoven; he produced a steady stream of new works including his Fourth Piano Concerto, three string quartets written for Count Rasumovsky and a set of Variations for Piano on an Original Theme all of which helped boost his reputation both in Vienna and throughout Europe.

02*2008012920090210

Including a seven-bar fugue for two violins, a miniature set of variations on a Scottish folksong and, at the other end of the scale, Beethoven's last, and some would say greatest, piano sonata.
Chiling O'Guiry, No 5 (Six National Airs Varied, for piano with flute or violin, Op 105)
Patrick Gallois (flute)
Cecile Licad (piano)
11 New Bagatelles for piano, Op 119
Rudolf Buchbinder (piano)
Duet for two violins, WoO 34
Lukas Hagen, Rainer Schmidt (violins)
Bundeslied, Op 122 (Song of Fellowship)
Ambrosian Singers
London Symphony Orchestra
Michael Tilson Thomas (conductor)
Piano Sonata No 32 in C minor, Op 111
Maurizio Pollini (piano)

02180920100511

Donald Macleod focuses on the year 1809, when Napoleon invaded Vienna.

In 1809 when Napoleon invaded Vienna, the entire nobility fled the city, including one of Beethoven's most important patrons, Archduke Rudolph.

Beethoven composed two works for Rudolph that year, the Les Adieux Piano Sonata - a touching souvenir of his friend's temporary exile, and the majestic Emperor Piano Concerto.

Donald Macleod explores key music and events of Beethoven's year.

02Beethoven and the Early Signs of Deafness20120724

Donald Macleod surveys Beethoven's career in 1801, including the early signs of deafness.

02Beethoven and the Early Signs of Deafness20120724

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Beethoven, taking a snapshot view through the window of five of the composer's thirty-two piano sonatas.

Beethoven was now quite successful by 1801, supported by a most generous patron Prince Lichnowsky, who had previously been an important patron of Mozart's. Commissions meant that Beethoven was now being taken seriously as a composer, and one such commission was for the stage. This provided Beethoven with the opportunity of writing ballet music for The Creatures of Prometheus, which proved so popular it was performed many times that year.

Beethoven was not above criticism though, and was aware that he still needed to develop his compositional skills and technique. This included having lessons from the major Viennese composer Antonio Salieri, who set the younger composer exercises in writing for voice. A number of these unaccompanied partsongs survive, including Nei campi e nelle selve, WoO 99.

At this time however, there were increasing signs that Beethoven was suffering from hearing difficulties. His friends noticed that Beethoven would often have cotton wool soaked in almond oil protruding from his ears. This, combined with other periods of illness, could have been one reason for Beethoven turning to religious songs, including composing The Glory of God in Nature opus 48.

1801 was also a time for composing further piano sonatas, numbers twelve to fifteen. One of Beethoven's favourite piano sonatas would be written during this period: the Piano Sonata No.15 in D major, otherwise known as the "Pastoral".

02Love And Longing20111213

Donald Macleod introduces music for a friend and a potential love interest of Beethoven's.

In 1807 there was an explosion in performances of Beethoven's music.

His name on a concert programme would guarantee a full house, and his music became the biggest draw for Viennese audiences, second only to Haydn.

And thanks to a rise in popularity of domestic music-making, there was a huge demand for instrumental music.

Donald Macleod introduces the cello sonata dedicated to a friend Beethoven had asked to help him find a wife, one of his most popular piano pieces presented to the woman in question, and the extraordinary choral work, barely finished in time for his own benefit concert which broke down during the first performance.

02Summer In Heiligenstadt2013122420150421 (R3)

Donald Macleod explores how Beethoven's acceptance of his deafness spawned masterpieces.

For Beethoven, 1802 marked both an emotional nadir and a peak of creativity. Donald Macleod explores how the composer's acceptance of his deafness spawned a string of masterpieces.

If Bonn had had a child protection unit in the 1770s, its officers would doubtless have been frequent callers at 24 Rheingasse, the Beethoven family home. A neighbour might have heard little Ludwig calling out from the cellar where he had been locked up by his drunkard father Johann, or witnessed one of the regular beatings Johann administered to 'encourage' his son to practice the piano. Yet from this abusive background, Ludwig van Beethoven emerged as the greatest musician of his age - the composer who absorbed the Classical legacy of Haydn and Mozart, then utterly transformed it. This week, Donald Macleod charts the course of this transformation in a series of five snapshots of Beethoven's life and work, from his first attempts at composition to the extraordinary productions of his final years.

Today's programme focuses on six months in 1802, when Beethoven, on doctor's orders, took a rest-cure in the tiny, picturesque spa-town of Heiligenstadt. For some years the composer's hearing had been deteriorating but, by 1801, things had started to reach crisis point. In June of that year Beethoven wrote a despairing letter to his childhood friend Franz Wegeler, now a distinguished medic. Wegeler recommended a change of doctor, and it was the new man - Johann Adam Schmidt - who advised Beethoven to abscond to Heiligenstadt to give his hearing a rest away from the noisy bustle of Vienna. Here Beethoven wrote the document known by posterity as the Heiligenstadt Testament - a letter to his brothers, to be read only after his death, in which he expressed despair at his hearing loss but determination nonetheless to fulfil what he felt to be his artistic destiny. His productivity during the summer of 1802 bears witness to that determination; here he wrote or completed his 2nd Symphony, the three violin sonatas Op 30, two of the piano sonatas Op 31, and more besides.

02Vienna *20060307

was a place of tantalising opportunity for Beethoven. In 1792, the year he left the court at Bonn to move to the Imperial capital, it was the leading musical city in Europe. Donald Macleod recounts how the young composer set about making a name for himself in Viennese society.
No 1 in D - from 6 Ländler for 2 violins and bass
Lukas Hagen, Rainer Schmidt (violin)
Alois Posch (double bass)
Rondo (Sonata for Piano and Horn, Op 17)
Daniel Barenboim (piano)
Myron Bloom (horn)
Piano Concerto No 5 in E flat, Op 73
Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor)
Che fa il mio bene? (L'amante impaziente I, Op 82, No 3)
Cecilia Bartoli (mezzo soprano)
Andreas Schiff (piano).

03*2008013020090211

Donald Macleod focuses on a single work, Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, and talks to pianist and music scholar Charles Rosen, who tells the story behind the piece.
33 Variations on a Waltz by A Diabelli, Op 120
Charles Rosen (piano)

03181220100512

Donald Macleod focuses on key music and events in Beethoven's life from 1812.

Beethoven had numerous amorous encounters over the years, some more serious than others, but things came to a head in 1812.

That year he wrote a love letter to his 'Immortal Beloved' whose identity has given rise to endless speculation ever since.

Donald introduces songs written for the most likely candidate, Antonie Brentano, and, in the year which saw a turning point in Beethoven's musical style, the final major work of that period - his 8th symphony.

Donald Macleod explores key music and events of Beethoven's year.

03Beethoven Turns To Writing Opera20120725

Donald Macleod explores the period 1804-5, when Beethoven turns to writing an opera.

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Beethoven, taking a snapshot view through the window of five of the composer's thirty-two piano sonatas.

The music of Beethoven between 1804-5, was now travelling abroad, including ten performances of major works in England. This was a period when Beethoven would turn his attention to writing an opera, Fidelio, but this process was protracted, with long breaks to focus upon other works. One work which he turned to during this period, was the Triple Concerto in C major opus 56.

A complicated love life would also impact upon Beethoven's time, including his relationship with Countess Josephine Deym. Although both parties cared for each other greatly, this relationship could never lead to marriage, as it would mean that the Countess would have to give up her title, and possibly lose her guardianship of her children. One song Beethoven dedicated to the Countess Josephine, is addressed to Hope, An die Hoffnung opus 32.

During this same period, Beethoven continued his exploration of piano sonatas, including one possibly conceived during a countryside walk. Beethoven and his pupil Ries were walking in some woods, when Ries noticed his tutor humming a number of passages. On returning home Beethoven raged on the keys of his keyboard, developing the finale of this new sonata, known today as the 'Appassionata', opus 57.

03Heiligenstadt20060308

Beethoven's life was a success. Acclaimed by the Viennese, by 1801 he was enjoying an especially prolific period musically. Yet correspondence to his friends makes it clear that he was also aware of his increasing deafness. It was a situation which drove him to a terrible spiritual crisis.
After producing one of the most remarkable documents, in which he speaks not just to his friends but to humanity at large, remarkably Beethoven was able to recover and strike out along a new creative path.
Overture to The Creatures of Prometheus, Op 43
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Sir Charles Mackerras (conductor)
Violin sonata in Cm, Op 30, No 2
Gideon Kremer (violin)
Martha Argerich (piano)
Abscheulicher and Prisoner's Chorus from Act 1 (Fidelio)
Christa Ludwig (mezzo soprano)
Ingeborg Hallstein (soprano)
Kurt Wehofschitz (tenor)
Raymond Wolansky (baritone)
Gotlob Frick (bass)
Philharmonia Chorus & Orchestra
Otto Klemperer (conductor).

03Too Much Of A Good Thing20131225
03Too Much Of A Good Thing2013122520150422 (R3)

Donald Macleod discusses a special four-hour concert Beethoven mounted in 1808.

Beethoven unveils his 5th and 6th symphonies, 4th piano concerto and more besides in a four-hour concert in the biting cold of a Viennese December. Donald Macleod asks why.

If Bonn had had a child protection unit in the 1770s, its officers would doubtless have been frequent callers at 24 Rheingasse, the Beethoven family home. A neighbour might have heard little Ludwig calling out from the cellar where he had been locked up by his drunkard father Johann, or witnessed one of the regular beatings Johann administered to 'encourage' his son to practice the piano. Yet from this abusive background, Ludwig van Beethoven emerged as the greatest musician of his age - the composer who absorbed the Classical legacy of Haydn and Mozart, then utterly transformed it. This week, Donald Macleod charts the course of this transformation in a series of five snapshots of Beethoven's life and work, from his first attempts at composition to the extraordinary productions of his final years.

Today's programme homes in on a single day, the 22nd of December 1808, when Beethoven mounted an extraordinary 'benefit' concert - that is, a concert for his own financial benefit, in the Theater an der Wien. He had been petitioning the authorities for months for permission to do this, and eventually he took the only date he could get, despite the fact that it clashed with a major charity event being held on the same evening in another theatre. That, though, turned out to be the least of Beethoven's problems, foremost of which was the temperature inside the auditorium, which he couldn't afford to heat. Then there was the programme; four hours' worth of the most challenging new music - difficult for an audience under the most favourable of conditions, let along listening inside an icebox. To make matters worse, Beethoven had fallen out with the orchestral musicians at a previous concert, and they refused to rehearse with him. The evening concluded with the Choral Fantasia, which the composer had hastily finished off to provide a suitably grand conclusion to the proceedings. In the event, the performance came so badly unstuck that Beethoven had to stop the music halfway through and start again from the top. As one contemporary who shivered his way through the whole evening observed, "one can easily have too much of a good thing".

03Too Much Of A Good Thing20131225
03Too Much Of A Good Thing20131225

Beethoven unveils his 5th and 6th symphonies, 4th piano concerto and more besides in a four-hour concert in the biting cold of a Viennese December. Donald Macleod asks why.

If Bonn had had a child protection unit in the 1770s, its officers would doubtless have been frequent callers at 24 Rheingasse, the Beethoven family home. A neighbour might have heard little Ludwig calling out from the cellar where he had been locked by his drunkard father Johann, or witnessed one of the regular beatings Johann administered to 'encourage' his son to practice the piano. Yet from this abusive background, Ludwig van Beethoven emerged as the greatest musician of his age ? the composer who absorbed the Classical legacy of Haydn and Mozart, then utterly transformed it. This week, Donald Macleod charts the course of this transformation in a series of five snapshots of Beethoven's life and work, from his first attempts at composition to the extraordinary productions of his final years.

Today's programme homes in on a single day, the 22nd of December 1808, when Beethoven mounted an extraordinary 'benefit' concert ? that is, a concert for his own financial benefit, in the Theater an der Wien. He had been petitioning the authorities for months for permission to do this, and eventually he took the only date he could get, despite the fact that it clashed with a major charity event being held on the same evening in another theatre. That, though, turned out to be the least of Beethoven's problems, foremost of which was the temperature inside the auditorium, which he couldn't afford to heat. Then there was the programme; four hours' worth of the most challenging new music ? difficult for an audience under the most favourable of conditions, let along listening inside an icebox. To make matters worse, Beethoven had fallen out with the orchestral musicians at a previous concert, and they refused to rehearse with him. The evening concluded with the Choral Fantasia, which the composer had hastily finished off to provide a suitably grand conclusion to the proceedings. In the event, the performance came so badly unstuck that Beethoven had to stop the music halfway through and start again from the top. As one contemporary who shivered his way through the whole evening observed, "one can easily have too much of a good thing".

03Vienna's Darkest Hour20111214

Donald Macleod introduces music written during the aftermath of the Napoleonic invasion.

Donald Macleod introduces Beethoven's incidental music for a play by Goethe, the aptly named 'Serioso' string quartet, and a piano fantasia, all written during the dark days following the Napoleonic occupation of Vienna.

Thanks to the occupation of Vienna by Napoleon's troops in 1809, the citizens suffered great hardships including rising prices, crippling taxes and food shortages.

Beethoven had just negotiated a comfortable financial package from three of his patrons when soaring inflation caused its value to drop dramatically and he struggled to make ends meet.

Donald Macleod looks at works written during these straitened circumstances, including the incidental music to Goethe's play Egmont in which Beethoven gives his heartfelt response to the invasion.

Also, the Piano Fantasia, one of a group of solo piano works written that same year, which gives some indication of the remarkable skill Beethoven was renowned for as an improviser.

And the piano trio named after his patron and faithful friend, Archduke Rudolph Rudolph, begun in 1810, and from the late summer of that year, a new string quartet, full of extreme anguish and compressed intensity, aptly named 'Serioso'.

04*2008013120090212

With Donald Macleod. Including movements from the Missa Solemnis and the Ninth Symphony, the two grand public utterances of Beethoven's last decade. The Ninth achieved iconic status almost immediately; the Mass, regarded by the composer as his greatest work, is considered to have been neglected.

Also in the programme is Beethoven's last set of piano bagatelles, played on his own fortepiano - a gift from Thomas Broadwood of London.

Falstafferel, WoO 184

Members of the Kammerchor der Berliner Singakademie and the Berliner Solisten

Allegro vivace (Missa Solemnis in D)

Eva Mei (soprano)

Marjana Lipovsek (contralto)

Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor)

Robert Holl (bass)

Arnold Schoenberg Choir

Erwin Ortner (chorus master)

Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor)

Six Bagatelles, Op 126

Melvyn Tan (fortepiano)

Symphony No 9 in D minor, Op 125 (1st mvt)

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Charles Mackerras (conductor).

04181420100513

Donald Macleod explores Beethoven's opera Fidelio, from the year 1814.

In 1814, Beethoven created the version of his opera Fidelio we know today.

It is one of the most intense and moving of all music dramas, a celebration of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.

It was first written and staged nine years earlier, in November 1805, while Vienna was still under occupation by Napoleon's armies and folded after only three performances.

But in the celebratory mood that pervaded the City after Napoleon's abdication in 1814, the newly revised opera was a success and went on to secure its place in the repertoire.

Donald Macleod explores key music and events of Beethoven's year.

04Beethoven's Music Becomes Politically Charged20120726

Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Beethoven, taking a snapshot view through the window of five of the composer's thirty-two piano sonatas.

The year 1814 was a significant time in European history, as the previous year the Duke of Wellington had won a decisive victory over Napoleon, and now the monarchs and statesmen of many countries all descended upon Vienna, re-drawing the map of Europe in the wake of the battle of Waterloo. Many composers at this time would compose patriotic works, and Beethoven was no exception, including his Wellington's Victory opus 91.

Wellington's Victory became an overnight success, and was performed many times in 1814, increasing Beethoven's profile with the general public of Vienna. Riding this wave of popularity, Beethoven didn't stop there, but went on to compose a number of other politically charged works, including a celebratory cantata, The Glorious Moment opus 136. Beethoven even wrote a one-off Polonaise opus 89, for the Russian Empress, who was one of the many monarchs in town. Empress Elisabeth Alexyevna was so pleased with the work, that she awarded Beethoven a gift of 50 ducats.

1814 did see the end of a five year gap, where Beethoven had composed nothing for the piano previously. It was a new Piano Sonata, opus 90, which he dedicated to Count Moritz von Lichnowsky, who'd been very active on Beethoven's part, in securing the composer a financial reward from the British contingent at the Congress of Vienna, for his Wellington's Victory.

04Beethoven's Music Becomes Politically Charged20120726

Donald Macleod explores the Congress of Vienna, when Beethoven's music becomes political.

04Businessman And Charity-giver20111215

Donald Macleod considers two different sides of Beethoven's character.

Donald Macleod looks at two distinctly different sides of Beethoven's character as he strikes a publishing deal in England and willingly gives up his time and music to benefit the needy.

In 1810 Beethoven took advantage of his growing popularity in England and sold some of his music to Muzio Clementi, who had set himself up as a publisher in London.

From these works Donald introduces an intimate piano sonata, a piece whose intimate scale is in direct contrast to the grand sweep of the previous 'Appassionata' Sonata.

Also, his newly published oratorio, a copy of which he'd happily provided for performance at a charity concert in Graz.

Plus the rarely heard overture from a one-act singspiel commissioned for the opening of the new theatre at Pest, and the final movement from the symphony Wagner described as "The Apotheosis of the Dance".

04From the Ridiculous to the Sublime20131226

04From The Ridiculous To The Sublime2013122620150423 (R3)

How the success of Beethoven's 'potboiler' led to the revised version of his opera Fidelio

Donald Macleod explains how the phenomenal success of Beethoven's trashy potboiler Wellington's Victory had positive repercussions; it led to the revised version of Fidelio.

If Bonn had had a child protection unit in the 1770s, its officers would doubtless have been frequent callers at 24 Rheingasse, the Beethoven family home. A neighbour might have heard little Ludwig calling out from the cellar where he had been locked up by his drunkard father Johann, or witnessed one of the regular beatings Johann administered to 'encourage' his son to practice the piano. Yet from this abusive background, Ludwig van Beethoven emerged as the greatest musician of his age - the composer who absorbed the Classical legacy of Haydn and Mozart, then utterly transformed it. This week, Donald Macleod charts the course of this transformation in a series of five snapshots of Beethoven's life and work, from his first attempts at composition to the extraordinary productions of his final years.

Today's programme charts one of the most extraordinary episodes in Beethoven's life, from late 1813 to the end of the following year. For the previous decade, Europe had been dogged by the Napoleonic Wars. Now Napoleon's fortunes were beginning to unravel, and in June 1813, Austria abandoned its neutrality and joined the alliance against the French. In the same month, the French army, fighting under Napoleon's brother, Joseph I, was defeated by Wellington at the Battle of Vitoria. Vienna was awash with a tide of patriotic fervour, and that's when the imperial court mechanician, Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, came to Beethoven with an unusual proposal - would he compose a patriotic piece celebrating Wellington's victory? The work was originally to be written not for orchestra but for the Panharmonicon, a bellows-powered contraption-in-a-case of Mälzel's invention that could reproduce the sounds of a military band. Beethoven agreed, but in the event he produced an orchestral version instead. Premièred at a public concert in December 1813, this fatuous work became an immediate sensation, and several more performances followed. By the law of unexpected consequences, when the management of the Viennese court opera were looking for a new production, they turned to the most successful composer of the moment: Beethoven. They approached him with a view to staging his opera Fidelio, and he agreed, but only on the basis that he would be able to revise it completely - in the process, creating the version most widely performed to this day.

04From the Ridiculous to the Sublime20131226

04From The Ridiculous To The Sublime20131226

Donald Macleod explains how the phenomenal success of Beethoven's trashy potboiler, Wellington's Victory, had positive repercussions; it led to the revised version of Fidelio.

If Bonn had had a child protection unit in the 1770s, its officers would doubtless have been frequent callers at 24 Rheingasse, the Beethoven family home. A neighbour might have heard little Ludwig calling out from the cellar where he had been locked by his drunkard father Johann, or witnessed one of the regular beatings Johann administered to 'encourage' his son to practice the piano. Yet from this abusive background, Ludwig van Beethoven emerged as the greatest musician of his age ? the composer who absorbed the Classical legacy of Haydn and Mozart, then utterly transformed it. This week, Donald Macleod charts the course of this transformation in a series of five snapshots of Beethoven's life and work, from his first attempts at composition to the extraordinary productions of his final years.

Today's programme charts one of the most extraordinary episodes in Beethoven's life, from late 1813 to the end of the following year. For the previous decade, Europe had been dogged by the Napoleonic Wars. Now Napoleon's fortunes were beginning to unravel, and in June 1813, Austria abandoned its neutrality and joined the alliance against the French. In the same month, the French army, fighting under Napoleon's brother, Joseph I, was defeated by Wellington at the Battle of Vitoria. Vienna was awash with a tide of patriotic fervour, and that's when the imperial court mechanician, Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, came to Beethoven with an unusual proposal ? would he compose a patriotic piece celebrating Wellington's victory? The work was originally to be written not for orchestra but for the Panharmonicon, a bellows-powered contraption-in-a-case of Mälzel's invention that could reproduce the sounds of a military band. Beethoven agreed, but in the event he produced an orchestral version instead. Premièred at a public concert in December 1813, this fatuous work became an immediate sensation, and several more performances followed. By the law of unexpected consequences, when the management of the Viennese court opera were looking for a new production, they turned to the most successful composer of the moment: Beethoven. They approached him with a view to staging his opera Fidelio, and he agreed, but only on the basis that he would be able to revise it completely ? in the process, creating the version most widely performed to this day.

04The Years Of Occupation *20060309

An offer of a post in Kassel resulted in a group of Beethoven's friends providing him with a lifetime annuity, as long as he remained in Vienna. Released from monetary privations, Beethoven's thoughts turned to matrimony.

But after a short period of relative financial stability, the onset of war with the French and Napoleon's eventual invasion of Vienna turned the tables again, causing Beethoven considerable hardship.

Aus Goethe's Faust, Op 75, No 3

Stephan Genz (baritone)

Roger Vignoles (piano)

Scherzo (allegro molto) Cello sonata in A, Op 69

Raphael Wallfisch (cello)

John York (piano)

Symphony No 8

Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich

David Zinman (conductor)

Piano Sonata No 31 in A flat, Op 110

Alfredo Perl (piano).

051822

05Three Late Masterpieces20131227
05Three Late Masterpieces20131227
05Three Late Masterpieces2013122720150424 (R3)

Donald Macleod unpicks the overlapping origins of three late Beethoven masterpieces.

05Three Late Masterpieces20131227

05Three Late Masterpieces20131227
05Three Late Masterpieces2013122720150424 (R3)

In today's programme, Donald Macleod unpicks the overlapping origins of three late Beethoven masterpieces: the Missa Solemnis, the Diabelli Variations and the 9th Symphony.

If Bonn had had a child protection unit in the 1770s, its officers would doubtless have been frequent callers at 24 Rheingasse, the Beethoven family home. A neighbour might have heard little Ludwig calling out from the cellar where he had been locked up by his drunkard father Johann, or witnessed one of the regular beatings Johann administered to 'encourage' his son to practice the piano. Yet from this abusive background, Ludwig van Beethoven emerged as the greatest musician of his age - the composer who absorbed the Classical legacy of Haydn and Mozart, then utterly transformed it. This week, Donald Macleod charts the course of this transformation in a series of five snapshots of Beethoven's life and work, from his first attempts at composition to the extraordinary productions of his final years.

Today's programme picks up the trail in the early months of 1819, with Beethoven planning to write a High Mass for the installation of his patron and pupil, Archduke Rudolph, as Archbishop of Olmütz the following March. In the event, the scale of the work grew so far beyond his original conception that Beethoven overshot his self-imposed deadline by three years. Meanwhile, another commission had come along. The publisher, Anton Diabelli, wanted to bring out a patriotic collection of piano variations on a light-hearted waltz of his own composition, to be contributed by the 50 most celebrated composers and virtuosi of the Austrian empire. Each composer was to provide a single variation, Beethoven included. Something about the project evidently fascinated him because, instead of one variation, he ultimately came up with 33 - his largest and many would say greatest piano work. So he broke off work on the mass to write the first two-thirds of the Diabellis. He then set those aside for another new commission, to compose three more piano sonatas; they would be his last. Only then, in 1822, did he return to the mass, when he also started work on the 9th Symphony. That too was set aside while he completed the Diabelli Variations, after which he polished off the 9th. Confused? You won't be after today's show.

05 LAST2009021220090213

Donald Macleod considers Beethoven's final two years, which saw the creation of his late string quartets - the crowning achievements of the composer's life.

The programme includes the last movement of Beethoven's last quartet, along with the canon that inspired it. And there is a complete performance of the Quartet in E flat, in a celebrated showcase by the Guarneri Quartet.

Da ist das Werk, WoO 197 (1826)

  • cd 2 track 64

    es muss sein, woo 196 (1826)

  • cd 2 track 64

    string quartet no 16 in f, op 135 - 1826 (finale)

  • cd 2 track 9

    ecossaise in e flat, woo 86; allegretto quasi andante in g minor, woo 61a; waltz in d, woo 85

  • cd 2 tracks 8-10
  • cd 3 track 1.

    Donald Macleod looks at beethoven's last two years, which brought his late string quartets

  • cd2 tracks 24, 19, 23

    string quartet no 12 in e flat, op 127 (1825)

  • decca 470 849-2
  • deutsche gramophon 453 733-2
  • deutsche gramophon 453 794-2
  • gianluca cascioli (piano)
  • guarneri quartet
  • members of the kammerchor der berliner singakademie
  • takacs quartet

  • 05 LAST*20080201

    Donald Macleod considers Beethoven's final two years, which saw the creation of his late string quartets, regarded as the crowning achievement of the composer's life.
    Da ist das Werk, WoO 197
    Es muss sein, WoO 196
    Members of the Kammerchor der Berliner Singakademie
    Finale (String Quartet No 16 in F, Op 135)
    Takacs Quartet
    Ecossaise in E flat, WoO 86
    Allegretto quasi andante in G minor, WoO 61a
    Waltz in D, WoO 85
    Gianluca Cascioli (piano)
    String Quartet No 12 in E flat, Op 127
    Guarneri Quartet.

    05 LAST182220100514

    Donald Macleod explores key music and events in Beethoven's life from 1822.

    By 1822, Beethoven was becoming ever more reclusive and his behaviour increasingly strange.

    After an unproductive few years, thanks to a long drawn out guardianship battle over his nephew Carl, he'd finally found his feet again.

    His last piano sonata dates from that year as does the Handelian overture The Consecration of the House.

    But his greatest project, which took some five years to complete, was the Missa Solemnis, his largest choral work and for Beethoven, the supreme challenge of his life.

    Donald Macleod explores key music and events of Beethoven's year.

    05 LASTBeethoven's Last Piano Sonatas20120727

    Donald Macleod explores the period 1820-2, when Beethoven composes his final piano sonatas

    05 LASTBeethoven's Last Piano Sonatas20120727

    Donald Macleod explores the life and music of Beethoven, taking a snapshot view through the window of five of the composer's thirty-two piano sonatas.

    1820-2 was a period when Beethoven was consumed with composing, what he thought was his greatest work to date, the Missa Solemnis opus 123. This huge choral undertaking was like his opera, worked on over a long period, with breaks for the composer to focus upon other works. During this period, Beethoven returned to re-editing some Scottish folksongs for publication, including 'Music, Love and Wine', and 'Sally in our Alley'.

    By this time however, Beethoven was often seen walking the streets of Vienna, ranting to himself, or singing at the top of his voice. He looked dishevelled, and boys would openly mock him in the street, although he couldn't hear them. Rossini and Weber both visited Beethoven, and was saddened to see the poor state they found him in. Rossini even tried to get the Austrian Court to step in and assist Beethoven financially, but this appeal was turned down, as Beethoven was considered a hopeless case, mentally unbalanced.

    It was during this same period where Beethoven was seen walking the streets like a vagrant, and even arrested by the Police for peering into windows, that he interrupted his work on the Missa Solemnis to complete his final three piano sonatas. These piano works, including the Piano Sonata no.30 opus 109, pushed the boundaries of traditional sonata form, with none of the movements being what you'd expect.

    05 LASTEmotional Crisis20111216

    Donald Macleod introduces music from 1812 - a year of family crises and emotional torment.

    Donald Macleod introduces music by Beethoven from 1812 - a year of family crises and emotional torment revealed in one of the most famous love letters in the history of music.

    Thanks to his unfulfilled passion for this mystery woman, described only as the 'Immortal beloved' in his letter to her, Beethoven was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

    Perhaps because of his disturbed state of mind, he tried to prevent his brother Johann from marrying a woman he regarded as completely unsuitable, just as he had with his other brother Caspar Carl six years earlier.

    But on a happier note, Beethoven did get to meet his hero Goethe that year, whose words have inspired many of his loveliest songs, including two for chorus and orchestra - 'Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage.' Time and time again, Beethoven rose above personal crises, often writing some of his best music at such times.

    His eighth symphony was no exception.

    Described, along with his seventh, by the eminent critic Ernest Newman as giving voice to "a mood of joyous acceptance of life and the world".

    05 LASTFinal Statements *20060310

    Donald Macleod considers the preoccupations which absorbed Beethoven during the last decade of his life.

    Despite acute bouts of ill health, these years elicited some of his largest scale and most deeply introspective music.

    Missa Solemnis (Kyrie)

    The Chamber Orchestra of Europe

    Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor)

    Third movement from String Quartet, Op 132, in Am

    Quartetto Italiano

    Presto - O Freunde, nicht diese Tone! - Allegro assai (Symphony No 9)

    Gundula Janowitz (soprano)

    Hilde Rössel-Majdan (contralto)

    Waldemar Kmentt (tenor)

    Walter Berry (bass)

    Wiener Singverein

    Berlin Philharmonic

    Herbert von Karajan (conductor).

    05 LASTThree Late Masterpieces20131227

    In today's programme, Donald Macleod unpicks the overlapping origins of three late Beethoven masterpieces: the Missa Solemnis, the Diabelli Variations and the 9th Symphony.

    If Bonn had had a child protection unit in the 1770s, its officers would doubtless have been frequent callers at 24 Rheingasse, the Beethoven family home. A neighbour might have heard little Ludwig calling out from the cellar where he had been locked up by his drunkard father Johann, or witnessed one of the regular beatings Johann administered to 'encourage' his son to practice the piano. Yet from this abusive background, Ludwig van Beethoven emerged as the greatest musician of his age ? the composer who absorbed the Classical legacy of Haydn and Mozart, then utterly transformed it. This week, Donald Macleod charts the course of this transformation in a series of five snapshots of Beethoven's life and work, from his first attempts at composition to the extraordinary productions of his final years.

    Today's programme picks up the trail in the early months of 1819, with Beethoven planning to write a High Mass for the installation of his patron and pupil, Archduke Rudolph, as Archbishop of Olmütz the following March. In the event, the scale of the work grew so far beyond his original conception that Beethoven overshot his self-imposed deadline by three years. Meanwhile, another commission had come along. The publisher, Anton Diabelli, wanted to bring out a patriotic collection of piano variations on a light-hearted waltz of his own composition, to be contributed by the 50 most celebrated composers and virtuosi of the Austrian empire. Each composer was to provide a single variation, Beethoven included. Something about the project evidently fascinated him because, instead of one variation, he ultimately came up with 33 ? his largest and many would say greatest piano work. So he broke off work on the mass to write the first two-thirds of the Diabellis. He then set those aside for another new commission, to compose three more piano sonatas; they would be his last. Only then, in 1822, did he return to the mass, when he also started work on the 9th Symphony. That too was set aside while he completed the Diabelli Variations, after which he polished off the 9th. Confused? You won't be after today's show.