Join us for the ultimate celebration of Ludwig van Beethoven as we explore the man, the music, and his place in our time.
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, protesters in Parliament Square sing the ‘Ode to Joy’, and gift shops sell Ludwig van Beethoven action figures. We can attack him, revere him or just enjoy him. We can – and must – interrogate and challenge him. But we can’t ignore him.
And so we’re filling a whole weekend with talks, installations, exhibitions and – of course – his music, from a complete symphony cycle to the most exquisite of piano miniatures, as we attempt to find the man behind the myth.
Full line-up and timings to be announced at a later date.
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.
£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.
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
Andreas Staier fortepiano
Introduced by Sara Mohr-Pietsch
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
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.
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.
We host 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.
Supported by DHL