2020 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of one of the most famous composers of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven. It was supposed to be celebrated all over the world through events, festivals, concerts, seminars and workshops.
Due to the current developments of the coronavirus his music was not brought to life in most concert halls and other places where music can usually be heard. At the same time, now more than ever, it is wonderful to experience how strongly Beethoven’s works again and again touch people and of what deep and universal importance his message of freedom, civil protest, love and all-embracing humanity is. I am very grateful and happy that the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock gave me the great opportunity to organise a chamber music festival around Beethoven together with the freedom to develop it according to my thoughts and questions about presenting classical music to a modern society.
How can Beethoven’s message be passed on directly from the performing musician to the public in these times, when classical music in the form in which it has been presented for centuries is changing so rapidly? How can music, with such deep and touching messages, be brought across in a world where music is increasingly conveyed through social media, where people often click on what appears interesting, but where the appeal of something is decided sometimes within only a few seconds until the next “click” it is very quickly accessible and where attention to what is „clicked on“ sometimes lasts no longer than a few seconds? What can we as musicians and organizers do to present a concert of works by Beethoven to a modern audience in an attractive way?
Under the title „Happy Birthday Mr. Beethoven“, this Chamber Music Festival combines concerts ranging from the “classical” format to more creative programme concepts, resulting in a highly diverse festival program that will – hopefully – appeal to all different kinds of listeners.
Eight extraordinary concerts are to take place from October 19 until October 22 in different ambiences at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock to reflect Beethoven’s thoughts and also the ideas and reflections of different artists on how they interpret Beethoven’s music.
Dear audience, dear musicians,
We succeeded! 2020 should not pass without us having celebrated the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven in our beautiful university! Who would have ever thought that such an anniversary would be eclipsed by a pandemic like the one caused by the coronavirus. But it happened.
And in these long months of collective refuge, of being thrown back onto ourselves, one thing became increasingly clear: the less Beethoven’s music – and not only his – was heard live in concert, the more its universally formulated ideal of freedom, equality and brotherhood resonates in us, with a desire to experience music not only in a remote fashion, but together, as listeners and performers, in one place in unique moments of art coming to life.
It is astonishing to see how many members of our university have designed the programme of this chamber music festival not only once, but even twice, in order to make it happen. We were able to retain a substantial part of the works from the original programme from May, and have now added further works to the programme, which show us how other composers have reflected the music of Beethoven in their own oevre. So what would Brahms be without Beethoven? What does Saint Saëns have to do with Beethoven? What ties Shostakovich to Beethoven? And: Jazz and Beethoven, – how do they go together?! In the end, dear audience, the question is: How do you listen, how do we all listen to Beethoven’s music?
We have now finally had the chance to share with you again what fulfills us: We are allowed to perform and you are present with us as an audience on the premises – though with restrictions. More than ever before, it is clear that sharing moments between performers and audience is what truly creates magic, making unique moments that will pass in a glimpse but may stay in our memory and hearts for a long time.
I would like to conclude by expressing my sincere thanks to all the great musicians who will be performing at this chamber music festival, to my esteemed colleagues with their ideas and advice in the preparation, and also to all those behind the scenes whose energy and patience make the festival and its smooth running possible. I wish you and us a wonderful celebration and I wish the birthday child a „Happy Birthday, Mr Beethoven!