L. V. BEETHOVEN: THE ACADEMY ON 5 APRIL 1803
Le Concert Olympique / Arnold Schoenberg Choir Vienna / Susanne Bernhard , Soprano / Steve Davislim, Tenor / Dietrich Henschel, Bass / Kristian Bezuidenhout, Fortpiano / Jan Caeyers, Conductor
L. van Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D-Major, op. 36 L. van Beethoven: Concerto for piano No. 3 in C-minor, op. 37
L. van Beethoven: Christ on the Mount of Olives, op. 85
Concert at Beethovenfest Bonn, DeSingel Antwerpen sowie am Concertgebouw Amsterdam (26.09.-02.10.2017)
The Akademie at the “Theater an der Wien” on 5 April 1803 is of great significance in Beethoven’s biography because it was the first symphonic concert that only included orchestral and choral works by Beethoven on its programme. Thus the 1803 Akademie, unlike that of 2 April 1800, was Beethoven’s first official presentation as a composer of representative music. But more importantly, this concert only showcased large-scale works composed by Beethoven during and shortly after the so-called “Heiligenstadt crisis” – a dark period in his life that lasted a month, after which he was confronted with his incurable loss of hearing.
This existential crisis led to a turnaround in Beethoven’s career: he decided to no longer appear primarily as a pianist in future but to make composing new pieces his life’s work. This decision had immediate consequences for his music which became genre-crossing on all levels, something that could be clearly heard at the 1803 Akademie.
One can regard the three pieces – the Symphony No. 2, Piano Concerto No. 3 and the oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives – as key works because Beethoven resolutely broke away from the classical tradition and in these found his typical style and sound. A grasp of them is therefore a prerequisite for a better understanding of the “heroic” masterworks that came later such as the Symphony No. 3, the Piano Concertos Nos. 4 and 5 and both versions of Leonore.
In this way, Le Concert Olympique’s Akademie Project is not only a reconstruction of an important historical concert, but above all a good opportunity to gain a better insight into Beethoven’s radical and modern nature.