Beethoven's birthday inspires an 'Ode to Joy' in Naples Philharmonic season
You don't have to love Beethoven to know him.
He's brewed into some of your favorite pop music, from Billy Joel's "This Night" (the "Pathetique Sonata) to Rapper Nas' "I Can" ("Für Elise").
You've heard his "Ode to Joy" from the Symphony No. 9 slipped into the soundtracks of movies like "Dead Poets Society" and "Die Hard," when it wasn't being outright played by a character ("Clockwork Orange"). The footprint of his Symphony No. 7 is all over films, including "The King's Speech" and "Knowing."
There's even a story — in shades of the Mueller report, neither proven nor disproven — that the first CDs were created with enough data space (74 minutes) to play Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.
Artis—Naples Music Director Andrey Boreyko also believes, however, that to know Beethoven, a seminal influence on all music since, is to love him.
As Beethoven's 250th birthday approaches in December 2020, Boreyko has worked with administrative staff and musicians to program Beethoven into every Masterworks concert of the Naples Philharmonic in its 2019-2020 announced Sunday. Beethoven works also appear in probably three quarters of its chamber music series.
All five of Beethoven's piano concertos are on the schedule, as are three of his symphonies, and Artis—Naples is bringing in a number of soloists who are audience favorites, such as Emanuel Ax, Jonathan Biss, Jeremy Denk and Gidon Kremer.
This orchestra is one of earliest to announce, but Beethoven-rich programs will be likely on orchestral schedules around the world.
"In my life as a conductor I remember many years dedicated to composers. It's the 'Year of ....,' 'Year of ....,' 'Year of ....' Just give me the name," Boreyko said last week. "But in my opinion, there are three composers who deserve the year dedicated to them. Those are Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.
"I'm not original with these three names. But I truly believe without these three, all music would have been totally different."
In fact, Beethoven might be considered the model American composer, by Boreyko's definition. Bach, he said, developed music on the spectrum of communicating about and for divinity, communicating from the soul. Mozart created music that was personal and intimate, a communication with the soul.
"Then Beethoven came, and he said, 'We are human beings. This is the music of us. This is musica humana, I would say. ... This is music for us, and about us."
Nowhere is that more intentionally expressed than in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which takes its choral text from Schiller's "Ode to Joy," a cry for unity and joy among all people. The philharmonic is bringing in additional vocalists for the work's massive choral movement, and there will be three performances.
Those concerts, May 7 through 9, will also mark the final performance of the chorus under its founding director, James Cochran, after 29 years. The two people who have been his associates for 24 years, Brice Gerlach and Michelle Byrd, will depart as well (see story, this page.)
There are other high points planned for the season. The orchestra has commissioned two of its own pieces, one orchestral work from D. J. Sparr and a harp and piano concerto from Hannah Lash. Both get their world premiere here. Jean Yves Thibaudet plays the Ravel PIano Concerto for the Left Hand and Augustin Hadelich performs the Sibelius Violin Concerto.
But the year clearly belongs to Ludwig van.
"What's going on in Hayes Hall is going in Germany, in Russia, in Paris, all over the world. It's a special opportunity to be celebrating our humanity, and as Andre has mentioned, Beethoven really is a composer of humanity," offered David Filner, vice president for artistic operations. "He is an avowed celebrator of the human condition."
There is a deeper message to be found within that music, added Boreyko. He pointed out that Beethoven's hearing began to deteriorate in his mid-twenties and forced the great composer to feel the vibrations of instruments as they playedfor his composing. The Ninth Symphony is his triumph over his condition.
"Never give up. We learn that from Beethoven —about his life his situation, his tragedy, his impossible way to compose the last symphony. If you feel you are called to do something, do it, and never give up," he said.
"That is a special power of the soul."
Following are the concerts of the 2019-20 Naples Philharmonic Masterworks Series. Series subscriptions renewals for most series, including pops, with Kelli O’Hara, and dance, are on sale online now. New subscriptions go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, April 22, at the box office or at 239-597-1900. Only Broadway Series are not on sale.
Naples Philharmonic Masterworks Series
Beethoven and Tchaikovsky — Oct. 17 and 18:Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5, D.J. Sparr Commissioned Work; Emanuel Ax, pianoAndrey Boreyko, conductor
Symphonic Dances — Nov. 14 and 16: Hannah Lash Piano and Harp Concerto,
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3, Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances
Arvo Volmer conductor; Hannah Lash, harp, Jeremy Denk, piano; Arvo Volmer conductor;
Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra — Dec. 6 and 7: Wagner Overture to "Tannhäuser,"
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4; Bartók Concerto for Orchestra; Alexandre Kantorow, piano, Andrey Boreyko, conductor
Beethoven’s Triple Concerto — Jan. 16 and 17: Beethoven Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano, “Triple Concerto”; Zemlinsky "The Mermaid"; Gidon Kremer, violin
Giedre Dirvanauskaite, cello
Georgijs Osokins, piano; Andrey Boreyko conductor
Abbado Conducts Beethoven — Jan. 31 and Feb. 1: Brahms Tragic Overture, Beethoven Symphony No. 8, Dvořák Cello Concerto; Kian Soltani, cello; Roberto Abbado, conductor
All Beethoven — Feb. 20 and 22: Beethoven's "The Consecration of the House,"
Piano Concerto No. 2 and Symphony No. 5; Inon Barnatan, piano; Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Hadelich Plays Sibelius — March 12 and 13: Arvo Pärt "Swansong";
Sibelius Violin Concerto; Beethoven Symphony No. 6,“Pastoral”; Augustin Hadelich, violin; Andrey Boreyko, conductor
Biss Plays Beethoven’s "Emperor"— April 2 and 4: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor"; Haydn Symphony No. 60, "Il Distratto (The Distracted)"; Richard Strauss' "Til Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks"; Jonathan Biss, piano; Andrey Boreyko, conductor
Ravel and Thibaudet — April 24 and 25: Beethoven "Fidelio" Overture,
Ravel Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasilieras No.8,
Ravel Boléro; Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano; Lee Mills, conductor
Boreyko Conducts Beethoven’s Ninth — May 7, 8 and 9: Beethoven Symphony No. 9, “Choral”; Naples Philharmonic Chorus, Ave Maria Chamber Choir, other performers and soloists; Andrey Boreyko, conductor; James Cochran, chorus director