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In honour of the great Beethoven - composers who dedicate works to the jubilarian

The 250th anniversary year of Ludwig van Beethoven's birth is drawing to a close. We are not certain of Beethoven’s exact date of birth, but it is certain the composer was baptised in Bonn on 17 December 1770.

Due to the pandemic, much of the concert life for the jubilee year 2020 turned out significantly different from what artists, composers and organisers had envisioned. Several performances were cancelled, including premieres and first performances of works dedicated to Beethoven by composers of our time.

Even the pianist Rudolf Buchbinder, who as a soloist had far better chances of appearing than large orchestras compelled to cancel numerous concerts, was not able to present his “Diabelli Project” in all parts of the world as planned and will make up for this in 2021. For this project, Buchbinder requested a number of composers to compose new Diabelli Variations in order to juxtapose them in concerts with Beethoven's original Diabelli Variations op. 120. Both Lera Auerbach (“Diabellical Waltz”) and the Boosey&Hawkes composer Brett Dean (“For Rudi”) have contributed to this project. 

In point of fact, Peter Ruzicka’s dedicatory composition ZUSCHREIBUNG (ASSIGNMENT) for orchestra should also have been premiered by the TONALi Orchestra in summer 2020. The premiere has now been rescheduled for the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie on 6 June 2021. Garrett Keast is to conduct the orchestra. Follow-up performances will take place in Berlin (10.6.), Vienna (12.6.), Lucerne (13.6.) and in Cologne (14.6.). Peter Ruzicka's latest contribution to the string quartet genre, the String Quartet No. 7 “... possible-à-chaque-instant”, also refers to Beethoven’s late string quartet in C sharp minor op. 131.  

The Austrian composer Gerald Resch has once again turned his attention to the string quartet genre in this Beethoven anniversary year and, like many other composers of our time, has addressed the jubilee in his String Quartet No. 3 “attacca”. In the main part of the 2nd movement, Resch quotes the bizarre beginning of the 2nd movement from Beethoven's String Quartet op. 59/1: a characteristically rhythmic tone repetition in the cello, from which everything that follows is derived in the manner of a perpetuum mobile (perpetual motion). The main part of the 3rd movement is entitled Arioso and uses the structure of the 2nd movement from Beethoven's op. 18/1 as a matrix.  

Lera Auerbach has dedicated her string quartet no. 9 "Danksagung" (Thanksgiving) to the jubilarian. The composer based the work on the 3rd movement from Beethoven's 15th String Quartet in A minor op. 132, which is entitled "Holy thanksgiving of a convalescent to the Godhead, in the Lydian key". Obviously, Beethoven wished to express his gratitude for overcoming an illness. In the individual sections of her string quartet, the composer alternately has one string instrument play the original Beethoven part, while the other three parts are freely composed for this purpose.  

Already at the beginning of the Beethoven Year, the opera “Minona” by Estonian composer Jüri Reinvere was premiered on 25 January 2020 at the Regensburg Theatre. The opera is about Minona von Stackelberg (1813-1897), who was born and died in Vienna, but spent more than twenty years of her youth in Reval, Jüri Reinvere’s birthplace, Tallinn. There is strong evidence, but no certain proof, that she was the daughter of Ludwig van Beethoven and Josephine von Stackelberg, his presumed “Immortal Beloved”. 

Other works with reference to Beethoven from the Sikorski catalogues, some of which have not yet been premiered: 

Moritz Eggert: 
- “Op. 111” or narrator, piano and orchestra 
- “Number Nine”- cycle for orchestra, partly with solos

Johannes Harneit:
- “Beethoven-Sketches” (Keßlersches sketchbook) for orchestra 
- “Beethoven-Sketches” (Landsberg 5) for ensemble 

 Dejan Lazić:
- Cadenzas to the piano concertos 

Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf:
- “Beethoven Commentary” for piano 

Ludwig van Beethoven / Jan Müller-Wieland:
- Beethoven’s Egmont Overture. Transcription for the instrumentation of Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Story” 

Peter Ruzicka: 
- “ZURÜCKNEHMEN (WITHRAWAL). Memory for orchestra” 

Daniel Smutny: 
- “Echoes of Beethoven’s music” for piano  

Slawa Ulanowski: 
- “Die Wut über den verlorenen Groschen” (Anger over the lost penny) for drums and orchestra 

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