Beethoven’s entire cosmos

The Berliner Philharmoniker in Beethoven year 2020

The works of Ludwig van Beethoven are part of the Berliner Philharmonikerʼs musical DNA. Hans von Bülow, the first great chief conductor of the Philharmoniker, regarded the composer as the “sun at the centre of the solar system of modern music”. Each of the Philharmoniker’s chief conductors after him distinguished himself by his own approach to the works of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Free spirit, humanist, revolutionary

Audiences already had the opportunity to hear Kirill Petrenko as a Beethoven interpreter at the beginning of the 2019/2020 season. He conducted performances of the Ninth Symphony with its revolutionary choral finale – a visionary apotheosis on the brotherhood of all people. Two other works performed by Kirill Petrenko and the Berliner Philharmoniker represent Beethoven’s humanity and love of freedom: the opera Fidelio and his Missa solemnis. All three works – said the chief conductor in an interview for the Digital Concert Hall – contain “Beethoven’s entire cosmos”. The Missa solemnis, which represents a magnificent synthesis of the symphony and the liturgy of the mass, can be heard at the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden. His only opera, Fidelio, which the Berliner Philharmoniker will perform under the direction of Kirill Petrenko with Marlis Petersen as Leonore at the Easter Festival and in concert in Berlin, is a great hymn to freedom – and love.

In Berlin and on tour

But the orchestra will also pay tribute to Ludwig van Beethoven in concerts with other conductors: Sir Simon Rattle presents performances of the oratorio Christus am Ölberge, a relatively unknown work of the composer. The National Youth Orchestra of Germany presents its own interpretation of the Eroica. At the end of the season there is another Ninth, this time at a guest appearance in Japan with Gustavo Dudamel.

Brilliant chamber music composer

The composer is also represented in the chamber music concerts: the highlight is a two-day Beethoven Marathon in the Chamber Music Hall, during which, among other things, all the string quartets can be heard, from the early opus 18 to his final contribution to the genre. Not to forget the Philharmoniker’s chamber music series: whether the jazz or organ series, piano or chamber music evenings, they all pay tribute to the anniversary of the composer’s birth in very different ways. The chamber concerts in Baden-Baden are also dedicated to Beethoven. Our theme is complimented by an exhibition at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, which has the world’s most extensive collection of Beethoven autograph scores. With the title Diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt, the most important pieces of this collection can be viewed in the Wilhelm-von-Humboldt-Saal at Unter den Linden between March and June 2020.

Looking ahead to next season

The beginning of the next concert season is also largely dedicated to Beethoven: at the end of August and the beginning of September, the Berliner Philharmoniker and Kirill Petrenko will tour the music festivals in Salzburg, Lucerne and London – together with pianist Daniil Trifonov, who will be the soloist in the Third Piano Concerto. As part of Musikfest Berlin, pianist Igor Levit will play all of the composer’s piano sonatas. In October, the Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Marc Minkowski, give Beethoven fans the rare opportunity to hear the complete ballet Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus. The Philharmoniker’s Beethoven year ends with a chamber music highlight: violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann and pianist Martin Helmchen perform all the Violin Sonatas – another exciting facet in the cosmos of Ludwig van Beethoven.


25 and 26 April 2020

Beethoven Marathon

A feast for Beethoven fans: ensembles of the Berliner Philharmoniker will perform all of Beethoven’s string quartets.

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Marlis Petersen
(Photo: Yorgos Mavropoulos)
Gustavo Dudamel
(Photo: Mark Hanauer)
Sir Simon Rattle
(Photo: Monika Rittershaus)
Frank Peter Zimmermann
(Photo: Irène Zandel)
Igor Levit
(Photo: Felix Broede)

Looking ahead to the 2020/2021 season

Musikfest Berlin 2020

30 August to 27 September
Igor Levit plays all of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas

Festival tour Salzburg, Lucerne, London

30 August, 2 and 5 September 2020
Berliner Philharmoniker, Kirill Petrenko and Daniil Trifonov with Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor op. 37

Philharmonie Berlin

15/16 /17 October 2020
Berliner Philharmoniker and Marc Minkowski perform Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus op. 43

Chamber Music Hall of the Philharmonie Berlin

12 October and 8 December 2020
Complete Violin Sonatas by the composer with Frank Peter Zimmermann and Martin Helmchen

18 and 25 October 2020
Philharmonic Salon: Beethoven and the princes Lobkowicz