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Beethoven Inspires: WRTI Celebrates The Extraordinary Ludwig van Beethoven 250 Years After His Birth

Getty Images/Andreas Rentz
Beethoven's 250th anniversary inspired the creation of this mural in Bonn, Germany, the city of his birth.

Join us as we mark the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven with some of his most treasured works, as well as much that he inspired in the generations that followed. To kick things off, on Saturday Classical Coffeehouse with Debra Lew Harder on December 12th, our Special Saturday Espresso is an all-Beethoven affair! There are three choices—vote for your favorite here and then listen for the winner at 10 AM. You'll also hear beloved works by Beethoven during every hour of the show that airs from 6 AM to noon.

At 1 PM that day, the Metropolitan Opera offers up an encore broadcast of Beethoven’s Fidelio, performed in April 2017, with soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, soprano Hanna-Elisabeth Müller, tenor Klaus Florian Vogt and tenor David Portillo.

After the opera, Classical New Releases with Mark Pinto keeps the Beethoven energy flowing, with historical instrument recordings of the Violin Sonata No.10, Piano Concerto No.4 and Symphony No.5, plus solo piano outings by Angela Hewitt and native Philadelphian Victor Rosenbaum on modern instruments.

Throughout the birthday week, starting Monday December 14th, Beethoven’s early Op. 18 string quartets will be showcased on air, as we hear performances from the latest release by the Dover Quartet, recently appointed to the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music as Ensemble in Residence.

December 16th is widely believed to be Beethoven’s birth date, and on this day we’ll be treated to some special picks from hosts Gregg Whiteside, Debra Lew Harder and Kevin Gordon. Each has hand-selected a favorite Beethoven recording, coupled with a Beethoven-inspired selection, from another composer. Tune in to find out who picks what, and what this music means to our hosts. A few stories guaranteed!

Also on that day, you'll hear a specially commissioned work performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra, premiered earlier this year, entitled Jeder Baum spricht (Every Tree Speaks) by Iranian-Canadian composer Iman Habibi. Check out Susan Lewis’ conversation with Habibi, exploring Beethoven’s environmentalism and the inspiration his nature walks gave him.

On December 16th at 7:30 PM, don’t miss a special opportunity to watch a new documentary, Beethoven in Beijing, about The Philadelphia Orchestra’s tours to China, and their imprint on classical music there. Click here to watch Susan Lewis' interview with the filmmakers, Sam Katz and Jennifer Lin, and for documentary streaming details.

As if the music weren’t enough, we’ve unpacked much about the man himself. Host Kevin Gordon’s fascination with Beethoven runs deep and he's dived into the composer’s life, quirks, and legendary status. Check out Kevin’s two stories, featuring conversations with biographers John Suchet and Alessandra Comini.