This year marks the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the most iconic figures in music. And the Barbican Centre is celebrating this with one massive blowout weekend festival.
The Beethoven Weekender which offers a fresh and informal way to experience and explore Beethoven through symphonic and chamber music concerts, talks, and family events.
Basically, you don’t need to be a classical music aficionado to appreciate these events at the Barbican Centre.
Central to the weekend will be a complete performance of all of Beethoven’s nine symphonies by five of the UK’s leading orchestras from Liverpool, Bournemouth, Birmingham, Gateshead and Manchester with their chief conductors in a single weekend.
Each symphony will be introduced by Classic FM presenter and Beethoven expert John Suchet, whilst numerous other Beethoven performances take place across the Centre in a relaxed festival atmosphere.
The Weekender also features screenings of the 70s kids’ cartoon Ludwig – a surreal, mischievous, Beethoven-playing ovoid – with live soundtrack from Guildhall School’s Electronic Music department, performed by Guildhall Session Orchestra directed by Mike Roberts, and live narration from the voice of the original TV series, Jon Glover.
Young composers and performers work on responses to core Beethoven repertoire, including an installation that reimagines his Pastoral symphony which will be set amidst the greenery of the Barbican Conservatory – be sure to wander around this one during your visit.
Barbican’s Squish Space on Level G will offer Beethoven inspired sensory play sessions for children under five and their parents/carers.
More 2020 Beethoven events
Sir Simon Rattle and Barbican Resident Orchestra the London Symphony Orchestra pit Beethoven against Alban Berg – two very different kinds of radicalism in a powerful dialogue, including Beethoven’s rarely heard masterpiece Christ on the Mount of Olives in two performances (19 Jan & 13 Feb).
Barbican Associate Orchestra the BBC Symphony Orchestra performs the Missa Solemnis on 4 March – one of Beethoven’s most personal works.
Barbican Associate Ensemble, the Academy of Ancient Music began its Beethoven celebrations in October 2019 with a rare performance of the complete incidental music for Goethe’s play Egmont.
Following the Weekender’s symphony cycle, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique come to the Barbican in May to perform a second cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies, this time in a historically informed performance. The cycle is performed across five days (11-16 May).
Beethoven Weekender runs on 1 & 2 February and is part of Inside Out – the Barbican’s 2020 year-long programme exploring the relationship between our inner lives and creativity.