Join the ultimate celebration of Ludwig van Beethoven as we explore the man, the music, and his place in our time in a jam-packed festival weekend.
Beethoven is one of music’s most mythologised geniuses. In his own lifetime, he was a radical champion of individual expression in an age of violent social change. Today, ringtones bleep Für Elise and protesters in Parliament Square sing the ‘Ode to Joy’. We can attack him, revere him or just enjoy him. We can – and must – interrogate and challenge him. But we can’t ignore him.
So we’re filling a weekend with talks, installations, exhibitions and his music. From a full symphony cycle by five of the UK's top orchestras – Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra & Vasily Petrenko, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra & Kirill Karabits, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Royal Northern Sinfonia & Lars Vogt, and Hallé & Sir Mark Elder – to the most delicate piano miniatures, join us as we search for the man behind the myth.
Exchange your ticket for a wristband at the Box Office from one hour before the first performance. Wristband will guarantee entry to all the symphony sessions. Entry to other sessions will operate on a first-come, first-served basis.
Beethoven Weekender sponsored by DHL
Beethoven's Bagatelles supported by Classical Futures Europe and the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
1 Feb schedule
2 Feb schedule
£3 booking fee per online transaction, £4 by phone.
No fee when tickets are booked in person.
Booking fees are per transaction and not per ticket. If your booking contains several events the highest booking fee will apply. Booking fees do not currently apply to bookings for exhibitions in the Art Gallery. The booking fee may be reduced on certain events.
Explore the programme
Hear the greatest of all symphonic cycles in its entirety across one weekend. Introduced by Beethoven specialist and broadcaster John Suchet, five of the UK’s finest orchestras will take us on a journey from Beethoven’s game-changing First Symphony through to the glorious Ninth, opening a window to the human soul.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra & Kirill Karabits
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra & Vasily Petrenko
Royal Northern Sinfonia & Lars Vogt
Hallé & Sir Mark Elder
Introduced by John Suchet
Music, love, life and letters: whether fighting family feuds, contemplating his struggles with profound deafness, or bearing his soul to his ‘immortal beloved’, Beethoven wore his heart on his sleeve. Combining extracts from his intensely passionate letters with some of his most profound and intimate music, the Carducci Quartet shine a spotlight on the man behind the music.
Simon Callow narrator
Take this incredible opportunity to hear Beethoven violin music performed on his very own instrument – this is as close as you’ll come to hearing Beethoven’s music how he himself heard it. Compare the sound with that of a modern instrument, and discover the story of Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata, written for British virtuoso George Bridgetower.
Tai Murray violin
Silke Avenhaus piano
Daniel Sepec violin
Tobias Schabenberger fortepiano
Introduced by Sara Mohr-Pietsch
A composer at play: Dismissed by the composer’s own publisher as mere trifles, Beethoven’s piano bagatelles are proof that both humour and profundity can be found in the smallest of packages. From delicate miniatures to bottled echoes of his most thunderous piano sonatas, it’s a testament to the genius of the man to see what he could achieve with two minutes and a piano.
Christopher Park piano
Introduced by Gerard McBurney
Being a radical in his own time, the evergreen themes of Beethoven’s music make it ripe for revisiting, reworking and reinterpreting today. Step up André de Ridder and his ground-breaking musical collective s t a r g a z e. Together they present composer-provocateur Matthew Herbert’s 21st-century response which turns Beethoven on his head, moving from electronic installation to flashmob and culminating in a joyful participatory performance.
Young composers and performers get their teeth into Beethoven, offering a variety of responses to classic Beethoven repertoire, including a radical reimagining of his Pastoral Symphony set amidst the lush greenery of the Barbican Conservatory. Some are celebratory, others anarchic, but all salute a composer who continues to inspire today’s young creatives.
We host DHL and Beethoven-Haus Bonn’s fascinating touring exhibition BTHVN, displaying personal objects up close – including the composer’s own violin, ear trumpet and sketch books – as well as Andy Warhol’s famous Beethoven screenprint; a personal tribute from one genius to another.
The animated icon of 70s kids’ TV Ludwig – a surreal, mischievous, Beethoven-playing ovoid – returns for a new generation, with live soundtrack from the Guildhall School’s Electronic Music department and live narration from the voice of the original TV series, Jon Glover.
Squish Space, our sensory play area for under 5s, gets a musical makeover. Under 5s and their families can explore music through play, singing and percussion, creating new music together inspired by Beethoven’s symphonies, in inclusive creative sessions led by experienced music leaders and musicians.
Workshops will last up to 45 minutes and are split into ages under 1s, 1–2 yrs and 3–5 yrs. Entry is free on a first come first serve basis. Sign up on the door will be available 30 minutes before workshop begins.
The world's first disabled-led national youth orchestra, the National Open Youth Orchestra gives some of the UK’s most talented young disabled musicians a progression route. It promotes musical excellence, empowering disabled and non-disabled musicians aged 11-25 to rehearse and perform together as members of a pioneering ensemble. Join them as they open their doors for this open rehearsal exploring Beethoven-inspired repertoire.
Join a panel of musicians and artists from the d/Deaf community in conversation about Beethoven’s deafness and their own personal experiences. The session includes a recording of Stephen Fry reading the Heiligenstadt Testament made specifically for the occasion and the first performance of new poems by Raymond Antrobus, author of The Perseverance and winner of the Ted Hughes Award and Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award 2019.
Raymond Antrobus poet
Lloyd Coleman musician and Associate Music Director of Paraorchestra
Siobhan Clough musician and founder member of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Resound
Paul Whittaker speaker, musician and educator
Signed by Kate Collier RSLI
Download the schedule
Weekender sponsored by
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Milton Court Concert Hall is located within the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and is approximately a 5 minute walk from the Barbican entrance on Silk Street.
Silk St, London
The Barbican is widely accessible by bus, tube, train and by foot or bicycle. Plan your journey and find more route information in ‘Your Visit’ or book your car parking space in advance.
If you have any access-related queries, or are planning to attend a performance and would like to discuss your access requirements in advance, please email the Guildhall Facilities Department or call 020 7628 2571 and ask to speak to the duty manager.
Accessible parking for Milton Court is available at Barbican Car Park 3
LSO St Luke's
161 Old St
Nearby public transport
The closest London Underground station is Old Street.The nearest National Rail station is Old Street (for Great Northern services), with Liverpool Street, Farringdon, Blackfriars and City Thameslink all within walking distance. Bus services running to LSO St Luke's are 55, 243 (stop nearest to LSO St Luke's), 43, 76, 141, 205, 214, 271.
Car and bicycle parking
The nearest paid car parking is at the Barbican. There are occasionally disabled parking spaces available at the venue, but these must be booked in advance by calling LSO St Luke's on 020 7490 3939. The nearest TfL Bicycle Hire docking station is at Old Street tube station.