Peter Oundjian discusses this season’s Beethoven theme 

April 24, 2019

Well, I’m extremely excited about the 2019 Colorado Music Festival. It begins with a concept, really, about Beethoven and his influence on future composers. As we all know, 2020 is going to be a major anniversary of Beethoven; 250 years since his birth. And I thought wouldn’t it be interesting in 2019 rather than ignoring him completely to actually demonstrate a little bit with various programs just how significant a voice Beethoven has been to future composers and future generations.

The first program is about Beethoven’s path to romanticism. Now, a lot of people would argue, well, Beethoven, was he a classical composure or was he, in fact, maybe an early romantic composer? You can argue that point if you like but basically, he did come out of the traditional tradition of Hayden and Mozart and living in Vienna for at least the majority of his life, those were his strongest influences.

This journey, I think, is a very important one because he had such imagination and given the fact that he lost his hearing at a relatively early age and certainly in the last 10 years of his life heard virtually nothing, it kind of allowed him to go in directions that perhaps he might otherwise not have been able to allow himself to do.

I think this idea is an interesting one, journey to romanticism, journey to modernism, even, with which we use the Grosse Fugue, the final movement of the Opus 130 String Quartet, which he wrote just three yeas before he died. We use that to show just how advanced his compositional style could become.

And then his journey to minimalism. Minimalism became popular towards the end of the 20th century with composers, particularly Phillip Glass, Steve Rice. John Adams, initially, was a minimalist. And we’re doing a program here which shows that Beethoven in his Sixth Symphony, particularly, but in many of his other works already was using minimalist techniques. So, we show that development.

And then the final thing, which is a little anachronistic in a way, is Jean-Marie Zeitouni will be conducting a program which talks a little bit about the relationship between Beethoven and the neoclassicists. Now, there are many neoclassicists in the 20th century. Probably the most famous of them is Stravinsky, but certainly there was neoclassicism even from Bartok and Prokofiev and many other composers.

Those are the four journeys that we’re gonna try to demonstrate as the summer progresses.

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