Commemorating 250 years since the birth of Ludwig Van Beethoven, the Beethoven2020 Festival celebrates the achievements of the legendary European composer. Including performances of his music, an academic conference, lectures and talks, exhibitions, film and poetry, the festival will take place at venues all around Cambridge. “During his lifetime, Beethoven changed the face of European music forever,” says Festival Coordinator Jude Douglass. “It isn’t surprising therefore that the birthday of Beethoven is being celebrated all over the world, including in Cambridge.”
One of the crown jewels of the festival will be the performances of Beethoven’s much-loved violin sonatas. Violinist Krysia Osostowicz and her accompanist Daniel Tong will be performing all of the sonatas over a series of four concerts, the first of which is coming up on 8 March. Each of the ten sonatas is accompanied by a miniature companion piece, which has been specially commissioned by Krysia and Daniel to complement the cycle as part of their Beethoven Plus project. “We wanted to make it a little bit different and put our personal stamp on it with our own approach and interpretation,” says Krysia, “we had the idea of inviting ten composers to respond to one of each of the Beethoven sonatas and be inspired to write a piece related to a particular sonata. The only rule that we gave was that the pieces should last no longer than five minutes.”
The result is a series of performances that will please both newcomers and Beethoven-lovers alike; “we felt that the project would introduce audiences to new music in a way that they might not otherwise get the opportunity to – not everyone goes to concerts of contemporary music – but this would be in relation to Beethoven and therefore very approachable,” Krysia explains, “and for people who love Beethoven, as we do, we felt that this would throw a fresh light on Beethoven’s music for classical audiences”.
The ten commissioned pieces showcase the talent of composers from across the UK and abroad, forming an impressively intricate appendage to Beethoven’s body of work. “We have played this cycle around the UK several times and the response has always been really enthusiastic,” Krysia adds. “And now that Beethoven’s 250th anniversary year is upon us we’re hugely looking forward to playing the cycle again.” The four violin sonata concerts will take place on 8 and 9 March, and 13 and 14 May. Tickets are on sale now at adcticketing.com. For more information about the Beethoven Plus project and upcoming performances, head to beethovenplus.com
Beethoven2020 is set to be a city-wide celebration, with nearly forty amateur groups already signed up to perform music from across Beethoven’s repertoire. There are also significant contributions from well-established musicians such as The Endellion String Quartet, who will perform all of Beethoven’s string quartets across six concerts at West Road Concert Hall, and Robinson College Music Society, who will be staging all of the piano concertos over the course of a weekend. Both Beethoven’s large and smaller-scale works will be getting the attention they deserve, so keep an eye on the festival’s website for more information about some of his lesser-known pieces. The Beethoven2020 Festival schedule can currently be found on their website, beethoven2020.co.uk