Today Deutsche Grammophon unveiled its major new Beethoven 2020 campaign, celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday, at an exclusive launch event at the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, marking the start of a new partnership between the research centre and the label that has recorded more of Beethoven’s music than any other. VIP guests and international media were invited to get a first look at The New Complete Edition – a remarkable new box set and digital series featuring over 250 artists and 175 hours of music – and hear from four key figures who will be celebrating the composer’s 250th anniversary: world-renowned conductor Andris Nelsons; celebrated violinist and incoming President of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Daniel Hope; Malte Boecker, Executive Director of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn and Artistic Director of BTHVN2020; and President of Deutsche Grammophon, Dr Clemens Trautman.
Beethoven 2020 Campaign Celebrates Beethoven’s 250th Birthday
Beethoven – The New Complete Edition
The centrepiece of the Beethoven 2020 campaign, celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday, is Beethoven – The New Complete Edition, which will be released on 8 November 2019. This 123-disc limited edition box set has been created in partnership with the Beethoven-Haus Bonn and compiled in collaboration with Decca and ten other labels. It includes a new essay written by Professor Dr Christine Siegert, Director of the Beethoven Archive. This new collection represents the most up-to-date and comprehensive anthology of Beethoven’s music ever, recorded by some of the world’s greatest performers from Böhm to Brendel, Menuhin to Mutter and Perahia to Pollini. It includes a number of world premiere recordings: superstar pianist Lang Lang plays the little-known Menuet In C Major (WoO 218) and Daniel Hope performs nine fragments or movements, including the last musical thought Beethoven wrote before his death. These are available now as a standalone digital album entitled Rarities, with many other recordings in the box set to be released digitally in the coming months.
“This selection of prize-winning recordings, rare gems and previously unreleased new recordings is a wellspring of musical inspiration and a perfect starting point for an extensive discovery of Beethoven’s legacy,” noted Malte Boecker of Beethoven-Haus Bonn. Daniel Hope added that he was “honoured to have recorded newly discovered works by Beethoven for the first time, in conjunction with the meticulous and scholarly work of the Beethoven-Haus”.
New Beethoven releases
“It’s music for our time and all time” – Andris Nelsons
Deutsche Grammophon also has an ambitious array of new Beethoven releases in their Beethoven 2020 campaign celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday. Andris Nelsons and the Wiener Philharmoniker have recorded all nine symphonies – a project that promises to reveal the compelling partnership between the conductor and the most renowned Beethoven orchestra in the world. The new cycle, released on 4 October 2019, is presented in a deluxe box with five CDs and a single Blu-ray Audio disc in TrueHD sound quality. Nelsons and the orchestra will perform complete cycles of the symphonies next year in Paris, Hamburg, Munich and Vienna.
Legendary Beethoven interpreter Maurizio Pollini will offer his mature thoughts on the composer’s late piano sonatas in a brand-new release. He will also perform at Munich’s Herkulessaal on 27 September 2019 in a special concert to kick off Beethoven’s 250th anniversary campaign. A new album from Jan Lisiecki, released on 13 September 2019, features the acclaimed young pianist’s insightful interpretations of the five piano concertos, in which he directs the Academy of St Martin in the Fields from the keyboard. Award-winning pianist Víkingur Ólafsson presents his interpretation of the beloved ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, Daniel Hope turns narrator for Beethoven For Children, and Matthias Goerne explores the rich expressive range of Beethoven’s Lieder.
Further highlights of the Beethoven 2020 campaign, celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday, include Rudolf Buchbinder’s Diabelli 2020 project, which pairs Beethoven’s famous set of piano variations with specially commissioned responses from today’s major composers including Brett Dean, Max Richter, Lera Auerbach, Krzysztof Penderecki, Rodion Shchedrin and Jörg Widmann; and Krystian Zimerman’s own distinctive survey of the complete piano concertos.
Digital initiatives and live events
As well as a brand-new website (www.beethoven-playon.com) a playlist of historical Beethoven recordings will be made newly available as part of The Shellac Project, a collaborative restoration project with Google Arts & Culture, through which digitised recordings are created from original matrices. In addition, there will be a new year-long video series from leading international music critics introducing 25 cult Beethoven albums. To bring these digital projects to life, there will also be a series of live events – from Beethoven Yellow Lounge events worldwide to a rich and illuminating BTHVN2020 programme with the Beethoven-Haus Bonn. Further projects and partnerships will be announced shortly.
“Play on, play against all odds”
“Beethoven’s world was turned upside down when he was still a young man,” observed Dr Clemens Trautmann, President of Deutsche Grammophon. “He was only in his late twenties when his hearing – the sense most vital to a composer – began to fail. By his mid-forties he was almost totally deaf. And yet he went on to write many of his greatest works long after he could no longer hear them in performance. The 250th anniversary of his birth is the time to reflect on Beethoven’s courage, a time to tell stories about his refusal to be silenced, a time to ‘Play on, play against all odds’. We’re delighted to work with our partners at the Beethoven-Haus Bonn and to be implementing a range of ambitious global digital initiatives that will open fresh perspectives on the composer’s art. Beethoven will be at the heart of the Yellow Label’s programme, in recordings, online and in performance, from now until January 2021.”
In the lead-up to the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, on 17 December 2020, Deutsche Grammophon will celebrate the composer’s musical legacy and shine a light on the works which have made him one of history’s most enduring figures. Together with the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, the label aims to bring together a combination of pioneering scholarship and matchless artistic achievement to showcase the composer in the digital age. Play on!
Beethoven – The New Complete Edition box set, released 8 November 2019, can be pre-ordered here.
Beethoven: Complete Symphonies, recorded by Andris Nelsons and the Wiener Philharmoniker, released 4 October 2019, can be pre-ordered here.
Beethoven – Rarities, including Lang Lang’s world premiere recording of Minuet In C Major, can be ordered here.