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Ludwig and Liberté

September 7, 2005

Beethoven in Bonn: every autumn the big names and up-and-coming talent of the classical music scene gather in Bonn to pay tribute to the city’s most famous son. The motto of the Beethoven Festival in 2005 is Liberté.


The Beethoven Festival in Bonn may have dropped the "International" from its name, but its scope and line-up certainly remain so. Under the patronage of German President Horst Köhler, the sixty-four events and additional side events will take place from September 8 until October 2 at twenty-five locations in Bonn, the city where Ludwig van Beethoven was born, as well as in the picturesque surrounding regions on the River Rhine.

With the motto Bohemia, last year’s festival looked towards the East. In 2005 the motto is Liberté, turning the focus to the West, or to be more precise, to France and its rich cultural heritage. Festival Director Ilona Schmiel on the motto: "Liberté is a key word of the French Revolution. There are many historical connections, including the two hundredth anniversary of Friedrich Schiller’s death in 1805 as well as the first performance of "Fidelio". We will embark on a voyage through time to encounter the revolutionary ideas and music that had a great effect on Beethoven, and we will present it to all visitors in a grand context. One highlight is certainly the Orchestre National de France with Kurt Masur and an all-French program. We also have Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Lise de la Salle, Helène Grimaud and of course the New York Philharmonic with Lorin Maazel, but also a grand master of the calibre of Alfred Brendel."

Tradition and Modernism

Ludwig van Beethoven lived during the Age of Enlightenment. This was a time of revolutionary ideas and social upheaval. It was also the era when the first orchestras and music societies for middle-class citizens were founded. But the Beethoven Festival is not primarily a museum of music history, as this year's line-up includes eight newly commissioned works. Of course, much Beethoven will be heard as well, including several cycles. His thirty-two piano sonatas will be played by Garrick Ohlsson, Andreas Staier, Louis Lortie and Bernd Glemser. In two recitals, the Beaux Arts Trio will perform Beethoven's complete piano trios. The programme also includes all of Beethoven's late string quartets. On that subject: building on last year's experience of the "Long Night of the Pianos," this time a "Long Night of the String Quartets" will be a big attraction. And on September the 25th, two hundred years to the day after the premiere of "Fidelio". Beethoven's only opera will be staged at the Bonn Opera House in a new production by director Günter Krämer.

Fostering Young Talent!

The Orchestral Campus, a collaboration with Deutsche Welle as media and co-partner of the Beethoven Festival, enters its fifth year in 2005. After Ukraine, Turkey, Georgia and China in past seasons, this time the invitation went to an outstanding youth orchestra from Poland. Coinciding with the current German-Polish Year 2005-2006, the Orchestra of the Krakow Music Academy will be coming to Bonn. One of the highlights of this programme will be the world première of a work by the young Polish composer Agata Zubel. Arts.21 will be presenting her in a portrait, just as we introduced the winners of the Deutsche Welle Composition Prize of the last two years who came from China and Georgia. You can find out more about these composers and the exciting music scenes they come from in our reports below.

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