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The San Francisco Symphony Celebrates Beethoven's 250th Birthday with Performances Throughout 2020

January 2, 2020

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Public Relations
San Francisco Symphony
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / JANUARY 2, 2020

THE SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY CELEBRATES BEETHOVEN’S 250TH BIRTHDAY WITH PERFORMANCES THROUGHOUT 2020

Beethoven250 celebrations kick off January 16–18 with MTT conducting the SFS in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 featuring pianist Emanuel Ax

The SFS performs Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 on January 23–25 with Dima Slobodeniouk conducting; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 on February 7–9 with Herbert Blomstedt conducting; and Overture to King Stephen on February 27–29, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen

Artist-in-Residence violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter presents an all-Beethoven recital on January 26, all-Beethoven chamber program on January 27, and performs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the SFS on June 4–6 with MTT conducting

Artist-in-Residence mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke performs Beethoven’s song cycle An die ferne Geliebte in a recital program on May 31

Pianists Yefim Bronfman and Igor Levit present solo recitals featuring Beethoven’s piano sonatas on April 5 and May 24

SAN FRANCISCO—In 2020, the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) join the global celebration of the 250th birthday of music’s most iconic composer, Ludwig van Beethoven. A crucial figure in the transition between the classical and romantic eras in classical music, Beethoven remains one of the most recognized and influential composers of all time. Kicking off the Symphony’s Beethoven250 celebrations, MTT leads the SFS and world-renowned pianist Emanuel Ax in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, January 16–18 at Davies Symphony Hall. Well known as a Beethoven virtuoso, Emanuel Ax is featured on two SFS Media recordings with MTT and the SFS—Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, released in 2015, and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, released in 2011. Other subscription programs featuring Beethoven’s music include Dima Slobodeniouk conducting Beethoven’s monumental Symphony No. 7 on January 23–25, SFS Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt leading the Orchestra in Symphony No. 2 on February 7–9, and SFS Music Director Designate Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the Overture to King Stephen in concerts on February 27–29. On June 4–6, MTT leads the SFS and Artist-in Residence Anne-Sophie Mutter in Beethoven’s lyrical Violin Concerto—the only violin concerto written by the composer.  

2019–20 season SFS Artists-in-Residence violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke join the San Francisco Symphony’s Beethoven250 celebrations, performing several of the composer’s works in recitals and chamber programs throughout the season. On January 26, Mutter presents an all-Beethoven recital, performing three of his most revered violin sonatas—No. 4 in A minor, No. 5 in F major, Spring, and No. 9 in A major, Kreutzer—accompanied by pianist Lambert Orkis. The following day, on January 27, Mutter performs a chamber program also dedicated to the music of Beethoven. She is joined by violinist Ye-Eun Choi, violist Vladimir Babeshko, and cellist Daniel Müller-Schott in performances of the composer’s String Trios in C minor and E-flat major, plus the inventive String Quartet in in E-flat major, Harp. On May 31, Sasha Cooke sings Beethoven’s sublimely beautiful song cycle An die ferne Geliebte in a recital program also featuring works by Schumann, Berlioz, Debussy, and Mahler.

Rounding out the SFS’s Beethoven250 celebrations, acclaimed pianists Yefim Bronfman and Igor Levit present electrifying all-Beethoven solo recitals, highlighting the composer’s extensive catalog of piano sonatas. On April 5, Bronfman performs Piano Sonatas Nos. 5–7—the three sonatas grouped as the composer’s Opus 10—and the emotional Piano Sonata No. 23, Appassionata. Beethoven’s Opus 10 piano sonatas, published together in 1798, are considered a critical step in the composer’s career, and show him absorbing influences of Mozart and Haydn. On May 24, Levit performs Piano Sonatas Nos. 9–11 from Beethoven's "early-middle period" and No. 29, Hammerklavier—one of the composer’s most technically challenging piano compositions and considered to be among the greatest piano sonatas of all time.

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