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Symphony No. 4: Composing for all eternity

Fri 5 Jun, 5.00pm

Symphony No. 4: Composing for all eternity, Beethoven Symphony films, Worldwide

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The Fourth Symphony is less well known than its odd-numbered neighbours, but in this instalment of our Beethoven Symphonies series, John Eliot Gardiner reveals that it is his favourite of the nine. In rehearsal with the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique for our Beethoven Symphony Cycle, he explores a work that Robert Schumann called “a slender Grecian maiden between two Nordic giants”, tracing the surprises en route between its mysterious, harmonically ambiguous introduction, and its high-spirited finale.

Directed and edited by Richard Wilson. Produced by Bill Lloyd & Richard Wilson. Director of Photography, Benjamin Ealovega.

About the series
In May, the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and John Eliot Gardiner should have been performing Beethoven’s complete symphonies at the Barbican Hall in London. This cycle was part of an international tour celebrating both Beethoven’s 250th anniversary and the 30th birthday of the ORR. We were lucky enough to be able to complete three cycles – in Barcelona, New York and Chicago – before the pandemic put a stop to all concerts. To give you a flavour of this monumental project, we will be releasing a nine-part series of films where John Eliot Gardiner will give his thoughts on Beethoven’s musical mind, and the orchestra will be seen rehearsing the symphonies.

Beethoven’s process of composition meant wrestling not just with beauty and emotion but also with political and humanitarian themes. During these uncertain times, perhaps more than any other composer, he gives us a feeling of triumph over adversity. The symphonies express Beethoven’s own bravery in the face of personal problems and these documentaries capture John Eliot Gardiner and the ORR tackling the music with a mixture of scholarship, energy, imagination and a complete devotion to Beethoven’s miraculous vision.