Beethoven meets avantgarde. The Bundesjugendorchester (German National Youth Orchestra) has thought up a special programme concept for the Beethoven Year: they are integrating two pieces by contemporary composers – Brett Dean’s Testament and a new work for orchestra and electric guitar that Mark Barden composed for the Bundesjugendorchester as a commission from the German Music Council – into their performance of the Eroica, one of the jubilarian’s most-performed symphonies.
Brett Dean, formerly violist in the Berliner Philharmoniker and today one of the most successful composers of his generation, was inspired by Beethoven’s “Heiligenstadt Testament”. One important inspiration for this work was the mental image of Beethoven’s quill pen scurrying quietly but audibly over the paper. Quotes from the First RasumowskyQuartet also play an important role. Brett Dean originally conceived his piece for twelve violas, and later developed a version for the classical orchestra line-up.
Mark Barden, student of Rebecca Saunders, Mathias Spahlinger and Jörg Widmann, considers sound a physical phenomenon. It is not his goal to play with musical material, but rather to gather sounds and put them together. His music is highly virtuoso and noise-like at the same time. “Mark Barden’s work represents a staging of the failures that occur just before and just beyond the limits of what the body can hear and what it can enact”, as was described in the tribute from the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, whose Composer’s Prize the American composer living in Berlin received in 2015.
When Beethoven composed his Third Symphony in 1803, he was one of the most avantgarde composers of his time, though we consider him classical today. The heroic spirit of the work, his innovative handling of the material and the bold harmonies seemed revolutionary and tremendously modern. The Bundesjugendorchester, in which Germany’s most gifted young instrumentalists play and which comes to Berlin once a year at the invitation of the Philharmonic, will present this unusual programme conducted by Christoph Altstaedt.