We pondered for some time, how do you celebrate the 250th anniversary of a universal towering genius, whose music inspires people all over the world? We decided early on not to programme a complete symphony cycle, partly as Kirill a few years ago conducted all 9 symphonies, in chronological order over 3 years. Instead we focussed on a smaller number of works that felt important to us and we looked at whether the anniversary opened up opportunities for works which were less often performed. As the anniversary is of Beethoven’s birth, it makes sense to have some works from early on in his life. Hence in the 2019/20 concert season we have Symphonies Nos 1-4.

In terms of selecting visiting artists for the season, we approached Sunwook Kim and Reinhard Goebel, as they are both artists we know very well and they have particular knowledge of and affinity with Beethoven’s music. Reinhard Goebel has exceptional insight and understanding of early classical music and always opens our eyes with his wonderful programmes from this era. I asked Reinhard if he would create a programme for us featuring Beethoven Symphony No.2. He did, capturing our imaginations with the Anton Eberl Sinfonie No.3 which was premiered in the same concert as Beethoven Symphony No.3, and the fragment of a Violin Concerto, wonderfully played by Tobias Feldmann.

Rheinhard Goebel (c) Christa Bleier

Sunwook is part of our musical family, a master musician who we all love working with. Sunwook playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.5 ‘Emperor’ is a real highlight of the season. We’re proud and happy to offer Sunwook his professional conducting debut and Beethoven Symphony No.4 completes our performances of Beethoven’s early symphonies.

Sunwook Kim makes conducting debut with BSO

Sunwook Kim (c) Marco Borggreve

Our Chief Conductor Kirill Karabits led the Orchestra in Symphonies 1 & 3 in Poole, and as part of the national celebration at the Barbican Weekender, and at Sage Gateshead. We were delighted to add Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto, performed by Stefan Jackiw into the mix. Our Young Conductor in Association, Marta Gardolińska, explored Beethoven’s famous Pastoral Symphony in her programme, which also included Alfredo Ovalles playing Piano Concerto No.4, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni Overture.

Our celebratory year has begun with performances under the batons of Kirill Karabits, Marta Gardolińska, and Reinhard Goebel. Still to come this season: Imperial Beethoven with Sunwook Kim on 1 April (Poole) and 2 April (Exeter). Click here to read more.