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Bard College’s ensemble makes their Carnegie debut under the baton of Leon Botstein, whom the New York TImes called “peerlessly adventurous,” with the help of pianist Piers Lane. Together, they perform a program dubbed “Beethoven’s ‘Likes’”: a selection of works from the great composer’s friends, students, and peers, as well as his own iconic Fifth Symphony.
- Cherubini—Overture from Les deux journées: Beethoven considered Cherubini to be the greatest living composer of the era; this lighthearted French opera—based around a water-carrier who becomes an unwitting hero—was so well-received in its premiere that a pack of real-life water-carriers offered the librettist a year’s free supply of water.
- Reicha—Symphony No. 3: Beethoven’s friend and fellow student rubbed elbows with some other composers of whom you might have heard—Berlioz and Liszt, for instance, studied under Reicha. This marks the U.S. premiere of this symphony.
- Ries—Piano Concerto No. 8: German violinist Franz Anton Ries taught many musicians in his day, but his brightest student may have been a scrappy young composer named Ludwig. Years later, Ries’ son (and the composer of this piece) began to study with his father’s protege, soon serving as both his secretary and his copyist. When the young Ries made his piano debut, a nervous Beethoven told him to skip a tricky section, but Ries ignored him and nailed it. The master, evidently, still had lessons to learn. New York premiere.
- Beethoven—Symphony No. 5: Everyone knows the iconic four-note melody that opens this composition. Dark and bold, it heralds the start of a four-movement symphony that sprang from turmoil both political and personal. When Beethoven wrote it, the Napoleonic Wars were roiling Vienna and Europe at large, and the composer himself was losing his hearing. Despite these obstacles and an initially lukewarm reception, Beethoven’s Fifth has since become one of the most famous symphonies of all time.