All the world is a party for Beethoven, and Fort Worth is invited. 2020 marks the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the most famous composers to ever pen a note.
Celebrations are taking place around the world (now would be a good time to visit Vienna), and Fort Worth's cherished classical music institutions are going all in, too. As his birthday is actually in December, there are likely to be more events announced when fall seasons are released.
But the party’s starting now, and RSVPs must be sent. Here’s a closer look at a few big Beethoven events rolling onto local stages this spring.
The Cliburn presents Beethoven at 250: The Piano Concertos, January 4
It all gets started with this creative two-part concert that's a dream come true for fans of Beethoven's piano concertos. The Cliburn at the Bass series will present each of his five concertos, in order. Two concerts in one day will feature five world-renowned pianists, including two Cliburn medalists who are Fort Worth favorites. The order goes: 2005 silver medalist Joyce Yang (No. 1), David Fray (No. 2), and 1997 gold medalist Jon Nakamatsu (No. 3) on the first concert; George Li (No. 4), and Till Fellner, (No. 5 "Emperor") on the second concert. Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducts the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra at Bass Performance Hall. The concerts are at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm and are ticketed separately or as a package.
Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth presents Beethoven the Craftsman, January 25
The beloved Fort Worth music society started celebrating early, programming Beethoven's works throughout their 2019-20 season. The second of two all-Beethoven concerts comes up January 25 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. One highlight will be the composer's Second Symphony presented in piano trio form — a transcription by Beethoven himself. The program also includes his Piano Trio in D major, Op.70 No.1 "Ghost," and Cello Sonata, No. 3 in A Major Op. 69. Featured artists will be violinist Gary Levinson, cellist Robert DeMaine, and pianist Andrew Armstrong.
The group's remaining concerts for the season will include Beethoven‘s Piano Trio in B-Flat Major, Op 97 “Archduke,” on February 8; Serenade in D Major for Violin, Viola, and Cello, Op. 8 on April 4; and String Quartet, No. 11, in F minor, Op. 95 on May 9 (starring the acclaimed Rolston String Quartet).
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Immortal Beloved 250 Gala, February 8
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is using its gala concert to not only celebrate Beethoven, but Miguel Harth-Bedoya, as well, as he's in his final year as FWSO music director. The glittering gala concert will feature the FWSO performing Beethoven's majestic Fifth Symphony, "a work so iconic it has become engrained in pop culture, yet so vast it continues to surprise and delight audiences everywhere," their program notes. Then a one-named violin superstar Midori joins the orchestra to play Beethoven's monumental Violin Concerto. The Bass Hall concert will be followed by a black-tie dinner-dance in the Grand Ballroom of the Worthington Renaissance Hotel, but concert tickets may be purchased separately.
Cliburn Festival: Beethoven at 250, February 27-March 1
The Cliburn outdoes its January concerto extravaganza by devoting its entire spring festival to Beethoven. The festival will feature solo, chamber, and vocal works spanning his entire career — all performed by "artists-in-residence" and special guests in five concerts over four days. The resident pianists — Kenny Broberg (2017 Cliburn silver medalist), Sean Chen (2013 Cliburn third-prize winner), and Filippo Gorini (2015 Telekom-Beethoven first-prize winner) — will be joined by the Verona Quartet and local musicians to showcase the composer's versatility, variety, genius, and spirit. The concerts take place at the Modern Art Museum and can be purchased as a subscription or individually. Program highlights include Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, op. 125, (IV) (“Ode to Joy”) (arr. Liszt/Chen); Sonata for Piano, Four Hands in D Major, op. 6; and Diabelli Variations, op. 120. For a full schedule of events, go to the festival website.
Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra presents Beethoven's 9th, April 3-5
As an encore to Beethoven's famous Fifth Symphony, the FWSO stages an even bigger "Choral" Ninth. The triumphant "Ode to Joy" anthem — which extols the ideal of universal brotherhood — will be sung by combined choirs from Texas Christian University, University of Texas Arlington, and Baylor University. They'll join soloists Twyla Robinson (soprano), Blythe Gaissert (mezzo-soprano), Clifton Forbis (tenor), and Michael Adams (baritone) and the FWSO, under the direction of Harth-Bedoya, at his penultimate concert of the season.