If seeing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony live isn’t yet on your bucket list, add it now and get ready to scratch it off next week. The Louisville Orchestra will close out its 2013/14 season with a performance of Ludwig Van’s illustrious masterpiece at Whitney Hall in the Kentucky Center.
Commissioned by the Philharmonic Society of London in 1817, Beethoven began composing his last and longest symphony in 1822--long after he had become almost totally deaf--and it premiered in May of 1824 in Vienna. Using Friedrich Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy” as the inspiration for the final movement, Beethoven was the first major composer to include voices in a symphony, a method that has influenced every generation of composers since.
Despite the premiere being conducted by Michael Umlauf, Kapellmeister to the Theater am Kärntnertor, the deaf Beethoven is reported to have sat by the stage as he read along in his score, loudly beating time to the musicians during the performance. Kapellmeister Umlauf is rumored to have told the orchestra beforehand to ignore any direction from Beethoven as he knew from experience that it would be practically incomprehensible. Needless to say, since the successful first performance, the Ninth has become one of the most recognized and performed works of music across the world, influencing countless areas of culture.
Also on the concert menu next week is the composer’s First Symphony. These two symphonic bookends showcase his early and late genius, demonstrating just how vast the divide was between the pre- and post-Beethoven eras.
There will be two performances: Thursday, April 10th at 10:30 am and Friday, April 11th at 8 pm. They feature the Louisville Orchestra and Chorus directed by Jorge Mester and Chorusmaster, Kent Hatteberg. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased here.
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