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Digital Beethoven Festival

Due to the coronavirus, Konserthuset’s major celebration of Beethoven’s anniversary year, the Ladies versus Beethoven Festival in March, was cancelled. But here is an alternative way to experience the festival programming online.

Some of the videos were taken from our own archives at Konserthuset Play – these recordings feature the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra performing symphonies no. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. The other videos are recordings from fellow orchestras all over the world, chosen from the vast world of digital music available online.

About the Festival

Beethoven’s symphonies comprise a unique and infinite universe that holds incredible discoveries for the first-time listener, but which can also be explored over and over again. In the Ladies versus Beethoven festival, the symphonies are placed in a new light through presentations with pieces by women composers from the nineteenth century to our own era; a joint tribute to western classical music.


We also wish to offer the opportunity to read the programme, which has texts written about Beethoven’s symphonies and the pieces by women composers to be performed in the same programme. The texts about Beethoven are written by Åke Holmquist, one of the leading Beethoven experts of our time and author of “Beethoven: Biografin”, a biography of Beethoven published in 2011.

Read the full programme as a browsable PDF, in Swedish only (opens in a new window)

More concerts on Konserthuset Play

LvB 1: Beethoven’s First & Ethel Smyth

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 is presented here together with Ethel Smyth’s large-scale Serenade. Like Beethoven, she had a somewhat combative personality and her life as a composer was staked out through his piano sonatas.

Ethel Smyth Serenade in D (sound only)
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Odaline de la Martinez conductor

Beethoven Symphony No. 1
Chicago Symphony
Sir Georg Solti conductor


LvB 2: Beethoven’s Second & Louise Farrenc

French Louise Farrenc was a great admirer of Beethoven. The second of her three symphonies is directly linked to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2, as a musical sibling. We will also hear Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3.

Louise Farrenc Symphony No. 2 (sound only)
Solistes Européens Luxembourg
Christoph König conductor

Beethoven Leonore Overture No. 3
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Rafael Kubelík conductor

Beethoven Symphony No. 2
Oslo Philharmonic
Mariss Jansons conductor


LvB 3: Beethoven’s Third & Kaija Saariaho

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica, was initially dedicated to Napoleon and is presented here beside Kaija Saariaho’s Orion, a piece inspired by the mythical huntsman who was transformed into a constellation. In the early nineteenth century, some forces in Europe actually wanted to rename the constellation of Orion’s Belt after Napoleon.

Kaija Saariaho Orion
Frankfurt Radio Symphony
Andrés Orozco-Estrada conductor

Beethoven Symphony No. 3
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
John Storgårds conductor


LvB 4: Beethoven’s Fourth & Amy Beach

There is a reason why Beethoven is presented here with Amy Beach. Both were interested in English, Irish and Scottish melodies. The second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 has a distinctively Gaelic theme, followed by variations. Given its characteristics, the Beach symphony is known as the Gaelic Symphony.

Amy Beach Symphony e minor ”Gaelic” (only sound)
Ulster Orchestra
JoAnn Falletta conductor

Beethoven Symphony No. 4
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Martin Fröst conductor


LvB 5: Beethoven’s Fifth & Dora Pejacevic

Two incredible symphonies strengthen one another here: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Dora Pejacevic’s magnificent Symphony in F-sharp minor.

Dora Pejacevic Symphony F sharp minor (sound only)
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz
Ari Rasilainen conductor

Beethoven Symphony No. 5
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Hartmut Haenchen conductor


LvB 6: Beethoven’s Sixth & Emilie Mayer

In the Pastoral symphony, Beethoven describes life in the countryside in the early nineteenth century. This music steps into the romantic era. Beethoven’s music made a deep impression on Emilie Mayer, who was born in 1812, and we can hear this in her Faust Overture.

Emilie Mayer Faust Overture (sound only)
Neubrandenburger Philharmonie
Stefan Malzew conductor

Beethoven Symphony No. 6
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Gianandrea Noseda conductor


LvB 7: Beethoven’s Seventh & Britta Byström

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 is extroverted and energetic. It is presented here with an orchestral piece by Britta Byström: Many, Yet One (this piece replaces the previously planned Voyages extraordinaires). She says that Beethoven’s seventh symphony seems to contain an unanswered riddle – something that can’t quite be captured, but that is brought to life upon each new listen.

Britta Byström Many, Yet One
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
James Gaffigan conductor

Beethoven Symphony No. 7
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Jean-Christophe Spinosi conductor


LvB 8: Beethoven’s Eighth & Sally Beamish

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 is full of contrasts and drama, yet also radiant with light and sorrow. Beethoven’s music is reflected here by British composer Sally Beamish. Beethoven’s music has served as a starting point for several of her pieces, including this string quartet which is based on the theme of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 4, Op. 18 (this piece replaces the previously planned orchestral piece). Note that the composer herself performs on the viola.

Sally Beamish Opus California for String Quartet
Helena Winkelman violin
Tim Crawford violin
Sally Beamish viola
Xenia Jankovic cello

Beethoven Symphony No. 8
Wiener Philharmoniker
Christian Thielemann conductor


LvB 9: Beethoven’s Ninth & Lotta Wennäkoski

In Symphony No. 9, Beethoven conveys the universal triumph of humankind. The music shifts symbolically from minor to major. Finnish composer Lotta Wennäkoski says that Beethoven’s music has the ability to create insights that allow one to better understand the human reality. As an introduction, we will hear an excerpt from her acclaimed Flounce.

Lotta Wennäkoski Flounce (excerpts)
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sakari Oramo conductor

Beethoven Symphony No. 9 ”Choral”
Chicago Symphony Orchestra and choir
Camilla Nylund soprano
Ekaterina Gubanova mezzo soprano
Matthew Polenzani tenor
Eric Owens bass-baritone
Riccardo Muti conductor