Barcelona celebrates 250 years of Beethoven

L'Auditori concert hall kicks off the anniversary tributes to the German composer on Saturday with a marathon of concerts

Robert Brufau, head of L'Auditori concert hall in Barcelona (Mar Vila)
Robert Brufau, head of L'Auditori concert hall in Barcelona (Mar Vila) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 10, 2020 05:26 PM

2020 is the 250th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest-ever composers, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Barcelona will join many other cities around the world in paying homage to one of the world's best-loved figures of classical music.

At the forefront of the activities celebrating the music of the 18th-century German composer and pianist is the Festival Beethoven250, a series of concerts at L'Auditori concert hall in Barcelona that begins on Saturday.

Saturday's event will feature a 14-hour marathon session of Beethoven's chamber music, kicking off a festival that boasts 60 works performed in 37 concerts and involving some 500 artists, as well as talks exploring the life and work of the musical genius.  

An "unprecedented" marathon of music 

Saturday's "ambitious" and "unprecedented" event, in the words of L'Auditori head Robert Brufau, will see the first of nine continuous concerts begin at 10 am, which are free to attend, with the public welcome to come and go throughout the day.

Visitors to L'Auditori on Saturday will also be able to see the sound installation by artist Leif Inge, called the '9BeetStretch', a project that stretches Beethoven's Ninth Symphony out over 24 hours, which the concert hall will also stream on its website.

The program for the Festival Beethoven250 aims to be eclectic, and the composer's legacy will be explored by the likes of the Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra (OBC), as well as sonatas performed by the likes of Evgeni Kissin and Nicolai Lugansky.

OBC orchestra plays major role

The OBC will be providing much of the music performed in the festival, under the direction of Kazushi Ono, Jan Willem de Vriend and Rudolf Buchbinder, with soloists such as Alisa Weilerstein, Guy Braunstein, Michaela Kaune and María Dueñas. 

Meanwhile, the Barcelona Municipal Band will give a complete rendition of the music the German genius composed for the performance of Goethe's play, 'Egmont' in a concert that will include narration by actor Àlex Casanovas. 

According to L'Auditori's director, the 'cherry on the cake' of the festival will be the opera, 'Prisoners of the State', by David Lang, a retelling of Beethoven’s 'Fidelio' that was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic.

Other tributes in Barcelona

'Fidelio' will also be part of the Beethoven anniversary celebrations at the Palau de la Música. The composer's only opera will be performed in a concert format by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel in April.

Before that, the Barcelona concert hall will feature The Complete Beethoven Symphonies with Sir John Eliot Gardiner in February, and later in May, the Complete Concerts for piano and orchestra, with Paul Lewis and the Orquestra Simfònica Camera Musicae (OCM).

Meanwhile, on February 23, the historic Santa Maria del Pi church in Barcelona's Gothic quarter will host a complete rendition of Beethoven's famous 'Moonlight Sonata', performed by French pianist, Eric Artz.