Wigmore Hall celebrates Beethoven's 250th anniversary

14 August 2019
By Ellie Palmer
Wigmore Hall Wigmore Hall
Wigmore Hall will host the Beethoven Festival Weekend on 14-15 September to launch Beethoven 250

Highlights include:

  • Beethoven Festival Weekend with ten concerts over two days by leading artists including Steven Isserlis and Robert Levin, Hugo Ticciati and O/Modernt, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Škampa Quartet, Benjamin Appl, Alina Ibragimova and Cédric Tiberghien (14 & 15 September)
  • Complete cycles by artists including piano sonatas with Jonathan Biss, violin sonatas with James Ehnes, string quartets with the Belcea Quartet, and cello sonatas with Miklós Perényi & Dénes Várjon across the season
  • Beethoven’s final three piano sonatas discussed and played by Sir András Schiff
  • Pianist and Beethoven scholar Jonathan Biss presents extra insight events for audiences in the Hall and online, drawing on his celebrated Beethoven Coursera lectures, and discussions with artists including Brett Dean and Sally Beamish
  • Composer Freya Waley-Cohen creates news works inspired by Beethoven including a string trio commissioned by Wigmore Hall
  • Wide range of Wigmore Hall’s 2019/20 Beethoven programming to be made available worldwide for free through its streaming service

Wigmore Hall builds towards the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth in December 2020 with Beethoven 250, an ambitious, season-long celebration, devised by Director John Gilhooly, covering almost all of Beethoven’s instrumental and chamber works, and examining the composer’s legacy.  This major Beethoven strand is the most comprehensive of its type in the country during this anniversary year.

The Beethoven 250 celebrations commence at the start of Wigmore Hall’s 2019/20 season with a Beethoven Festival Weekend on 14-15 September. The weekend features leading artists offering a wide range of perspectives on Beethoven – his music, his health, and the composers who were influenced by him.  

The cornerstones of Beethoven 250 are complete surveys of Beethoven’s piano, violin, and cello sonatas; the complete string quartets; the complete piano trios; and the complete string trios. Beethoven 250 also sees the start of a two-season series of the composer’s piano variations. As a comprehensive survey of Beethoven’s instrumental and chamber works by an array of leading performers, Beethoven 250 will undoubtedly provide fresh insights into these pieces. This programming is complemented by explorations of such themes as music and disability, and the composer’s legacy in the creative life of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

Pianist Robert Levin

Steven Isserlis and Robert Levin (on piano) open the Beethoven Festival Weekend on 14th September, performing Beethoven cello sonatas and variations. The innovative O/Modernt chamber ensemble, directed from the violin by Hugo Ticciati, give five themed recitals over the weekend exploring  Beethoven’s convalescence from illness (in his Heiliger Dankgesang), his immortal beloved, and also the influence Beethoven had on Brahms and composers stretching into the 20th century. Guest artists joining the ensemble include baritone Benjamin Appl, pianists Tim Horton, Kristian Bezuidenhout and Cédric Tiberghien, violinist Carolin Widmann, soprano Soraya Mafi, the Škampa Quartet, and baritone Mark Stone.

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Wigmore Hall’s Beethoven 250 celebrations continue throughout the season with a comprehensive series of complete Beethoven cycles: Jonathan Biss in the piano sonatas, James Ehnes in the violin sonatas, Miklós Perényi and Dénes Várjon in the cello sonatas, the Belcea Quartet in the string quartets, Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch in the piano trios, and, in the string trios, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Daniel Sepec and Tabea Zimmermann. Cédric Tiberghien initiates a series devoted to Beethoven’s piano variations that will continue into 2020/21 and Philippe Cassard and Cédric Pescia perform the Ninth Symphony in Liszt’s arrangement for two pianos.

Sir András Schiff will perform as part of the celebrations

Other highlights of the Wigmore Hall’s Beethoven 250 celebration include the final three piano sonatas both discussed and played by Sir András Schiff, and Michael Collins, one of the hall’s resident artists for 2019/20, in chamber works. Schiff appeared on the cover of issue 76 of Pianist.

Find out more information here.