Concerto No. 5, Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven left a blazing mark in music history and is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers the world has known. He was also an accomplished conductor and a virtuoso pianist who took many European stages by storm in his time. Whether with a profoundly moving piece for solo piano or with the power of a full symphony, Beethoven can move hearts and minds like few other classical composers. This season, the Orchestra Sinfonica Città di Roma pays tribute to the larger-than-life German composer with a double feature of his orchestral works: the Fifth Symphony in C minor, Op. 67 and the Concerto No. 5 for Piano and Orchestra in E-Flat Major, Op. 73 ‘The Emperor’. Both compositions come from Beethoven’s ‘middle period’, a creative and productive time, during which he created many heroic and majestic pieces of music.
The Fifth Symphony took Beethoven four years to write and had its premiere on 22 December 1808 at Theater an der Wien in Vienna. Informally dubbed ‘The Fate Symphony’ (or ‘Schicksals-Sinfonie’ in German), it reflects the turbulent life of its composer. New and more urgent requests led to frequent interruptions of the creative process. The Napoleonic Wars were ravaging much of Europe. On a personal level, hearing loss was creeping up on Beethoven and starting to take a toll. The multitude of challenges led the composer to a symphony that displays the indomitable drive of fate and the struggles of man to fight against it, to work with it, or simply to accept it. Beethoven’s inventive use of a variety of musical idioms makes his Fifth a true masterpiece.
Concerto No. 5 for Piano and Orchestra in E-flat Major was the last of its kind Beethoven wrote. First performed publicly on 28 November 1811 at Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, the concert carries the informal title ‘The Emperor’ and presents a prime example of the composer’s ‘heroic’ style. The virtuoso piano parts and the powerful, full-bodied orchestral accompaniment make this concerto a joyful celebration. In the gifted hands of Orchestra Sinfonica Città di Roma, Beethoven’s musical legacy springs to life and dazzles.