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Beethoven's Ninth turns 200
The world premiere took place on 7 May 1824 at the Theater am Kärntnertor in Vienna
On May 7, 2024, Beethoven's 'Ninth' turns 200: charismatic and solemn work, supreme monument of music of all time, the Symphony no. 9 in D minor for soloists, chorus and orchestra op. 125 rang out for the first time 7 May 1824 to Vienna, at Theater am Kärntnertor, the ancient Teatro di Porta Carinzia, precursor of the current Staatsoper.

The Ninth Symphony, also called Choral Symphony, took shape slowly, over a long span of life Beethoven, who wrote it between 1822 and 1824, making use of the ideas, thoughts and afterthoughts developed over thirty years. Initially inclined to debut the composition in Berlin, Beethoven gave in to his admirers, friends and patrons who were pushing for the first performance of the Symphony to take place in Vienna.

The preparations were frenetic, also due to the little time available for rehearsing such a demanding score, less than a month; finally we reached the evening of the debut: on stage there was the largest orchestra ever assembled by Beethoven, and a quartet of solo voices in which two young celebrities stood out, the German soprano Henriette Sontag  and the Viennese contralto Caroline Unger. The composer had not appeared on stage for 12 years, the hall was packed: all of Vienna had flocked to the great "Musical Academy" (as the concerts were called at the time) in which Beethoven's active participation had been announced. The venerated maestro actually took his place at the side of the stage giving tempos, but now deaf, he could not properly conduct the orchestra, which was led by the theatre's Kapellmeister, Michael Umlauf.

The success was triumphant, a riot of applause that Beethoven could not hear, and of which he did not notice, absorbed by the music that he followed in his mind, until the contralto Caroline Unger made him turn towards the audience who were waving handkerchiefs and hats so that the composer could see the gestures of ovation.

Since then the Ninth Symphony, although initially received by critics with mixed and not always flattering opinions, began its triumphal journey, becoming a milestone in the history of music, an essential reference for all subsequent composers, and one of the most famous and performed in the world. The famous Ode to Joy from the fourth movement was chosen as the official anthem of the European Union.

Highlighted

An ARTE television project celebrates the 200th anniversary of Beethoven's Ninth with a special concert from Leipzig, Paris, Milan and Vienna with the participation of four prestigious orchestras

To celebrate the bicentenary of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the cultural broadcaster ARTE has created an ambitious project from an organizational and artistic point of view: the four movements will be broadcast live/delayed (i.e. the same evening starting from 9.30pm) from four cities different. The Gewandhausorchester conducted by Andris Nelsons opens the evening in Leipzig with the first movement. The program continues with the Orchester de Paris, which performs the second movement under the baton of Klaus Mäkelä from the Philharmonie de Paris. The third movement will be performed by Riccardo Chailly conducting the Teatro alla Scala Orchestra. For the fourth and final movement, the “Ode to Joy,” ARTE returns to the city of the world premiere, Vienna. The Wiener Symphoniker are conducted by Petr Popelka. The four soloists are Rachel Willis-Sørensen, Tanja Ariane Baumgartner, Andreas Schager and Christof Fischesser together with the Wiener Singakademie.  
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