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Symphony No. 5: Subversive subtexts

Fri 12 Jun, 5.00pm

Symphony No. 5: Subversive subtexts, Beethoven Symphony films, Worldwide

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In the two centuries following its premiere in Vienna, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony has been purloined and exploited by political regimes, songwriters and advertisers alike, and its first four notes have become the most famous phrase in the western classical tradition. In this film, John Eliot Gardiner and the ORR explore possible hidden messages in the score which suggest that Beethoven was articulating the beliefs and values of the French Revolution.

Our live recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 from Carnegie Hall in 2011 is available to purchase from our shop by clicking here.

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.