Howard Shelley to mark his 70th birthday by performing all five Beethoven concertos in a single day

20 November 2019
By Ellie Palmer
The pianist and conductor will perform at St John's Smith Square on Sunday 8 March 2020

Howard Shelley is set to mark not one but two celebrations - his 70th birthday and Beethoven's 250th anniversary - next year with a performance of all five of Beethoven's piano concertos.

The concertos will be performed in three linked concerts at the London-based venue. 

The now 70-year-old burst onto the classical scene at the age of 21 with his acclaimed debut recital. He was no stranger to public performances, however, having already performed on the Royal Festival Hall stage aged 10. 

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On the plans for his piano marathon entitled ‘Celebrating with Beethoven’ Howard commented: "When the LMP (London Mozart Players) asked what I’d like as a 70th birthday gift, I couldn’t think of anything more wonderful than to play all Beethoven’s magnificent piano concertos in one day, directing this great orchestra from the piano. The joy and challenge of performing these five masterpieces in one sweep is the most thrilling and indulgent birthday present I could wish for. 2020 also sees the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, so this is the perfect opportunity for us to pay tribute to that most influential and revolutionary of classical composers."

Shelley has described the Beethoven piano concertos as a ‘Giant’s Causeway’ between the Classical and Romantic eras, progressing from the Mozartian qualities of the first he wrote (eventually published as his second piano concerto) to the almost Lisztian virtuosity and grandeur of the incomparable ‘Emperor’ concerto. Conducting the London Mozart Players from the keyboard during these three linked concerts, Howard will take the audience chronologically through the concertos, each with a personal introduction illustrating how Beethoven gave the piano an ever-increasing dramatic and heroic power, even as, in his personal life, he moved from exuberant vigour to silent isolation.

London Mozart Players, with whom Shelley has performed complete cycles of the both Mozart and Beethoven piano concertos over the last five years, is delighted to be performing with Howard for this special birthday concert series.