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The National Arts Centre Orchestra and Music Director Pinchas Zukerman kick off the 2012-2013 season in spectacular style with the Beethoven Festival - Evolution of a Genius (September 27 - October 4)

The National Arts Centre Orchestra and Music Director Pinchas Zukerman kick off the 2012-2013 season in spectacular style with the Beethoven Festival - Evolution of a Genius (September 27 - October 4)

OTTAWA, September 24, 2012 The four-concert Beethoven Festival – The Evolution of a Genius (September 27-October 4) throws a brilliant spotlight on the drama, power, and passion of  masterworks by one of the greatest artists in the world. German-born Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was acclaimed as both composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. The concerts -- each conducted by Music Director Pinchas Zukerman and performed by the National Arts Centre Orchestra -- explore Beethoven’s human, artistic, and spiritual journey.

The concerts on Thursday September 27, Friday September 28, Tuesday October 2, and Thursday October 4 take place at 8 p.m. in Southam Hall of the National Arts Centre. The evenings each feature a 7 p.m. pre-concert chat hosted by Le Droit’s Jean-Jacques Van Vlasselaer, Paul Kennedy and Robert Harris of CBC, or writer-broadcaster Eric Friesen. Tickets for the Beethoven Festival concerts are selling briskly; the opening concert is sold out, and limited seating is available for the other three concerts. The Ottawa Citizen is the Media Partner of the National Arts Centre Orchestra for the Beethoven Festival.

This is the sixth year in a row that the National Arts Centre Orchestra inaugurates the season with a spectacular themed festival devoted to the music of particular composers or from a particular country. Beethoven’s music is monumental and utterly universal, and the Festival includes true classics of the repertoire, including both of Beethoven’s most iconic works, his Fifth and his Ninth Symphonies. Also featured are Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73 “Emperor”; Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37; Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 “Eroica”; Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36; and Romance in G major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 40 with orchestra and Pinchas Zukerman performing solo violin, and Overture to Egmont, Opus 84. Triumphantly demonstrating the legacy and influence of Beethoven, Pinchas Zukerman performs Edward Elgar’s Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61.

The Beethoven Festival concerts feature superbly talented soloists. These incredible artists include pianists Angela Cheng (September 27), and Conrad Tao (September 28), conductor Christian Vásquez (October 2), and vocalists Joni Henson, soprano; Julie Bouliane, mezzo-soprano; Nicholas Phan, tenor; and Kevin Deas, bass (October 4).

Supremely talented, mercurial, and irascible, Beethoven did not compose from the part of himself that wanted to be loved, but from the part that loved. At age 19, ignited by the French Revolution of 1789, he embraced – for life – the ideals of liberty and fraternity. For him, the notes he penned on the staves were not so much the representation of a sound as the symbol of an idea. This belief grew stronger as he approached the age of 30 and deafness began to imprison him within himself. Though he contemplated suicide, he rejected the notion, firmly convinced that he owed it to the world to share the distinctive and unheard music he extracted from the depths of silence. Inspired by the emotional drive of Romanticism, he subverted the classical-based forms of Haydn and Mozart (both of whom he knew) to create revolutionary, heroic music that examined the individual’s confrontation with personal destiny, as in his Third and Fifth Symphonies and the “Emperor” Concerto. And he went even further: influenced by East Indian spirituality, he channeled his energy exclusively into the act of composing, which allowed him to enter the profound and universal zones that spawned his Ninth Symphony.

The following concerts make up the Beethoven Festival:

Beethoven’s Fifths – September 27 (part of the Bravo Series)
Pinchas Zukerman, conductor; Angela Cheng, piano

BEETHOVEN              Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67
BEETHOVEN              Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73 “Emperor”

Pre-Concert Chat (in English): Paul Kennedy, “Beethoven, What Was He Thinking?”

  • Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (written 1804–1808) is one of the greatest pieces of music ever written. It is also one of the most popular, best-known, and most often performed. The symphony and its four-note opening motif are known worldwide
  • Piano Concerto No. 5 (written 1809-1811) was Beethoven’s last piano concerto. The name “Emperor” was coined by the English publisher of the concerto
  • Angela Cheng is one of Canada's brightest stars, consistently cited for her brilliant technique, tonal beauty, and superb musicianship. She has appeared as soloist with virtually every orchestra in Canada, as well as numerous orchestras around the world

Heroic Beethoven – September 28 (part of the Bravo Series)
Pinchas Zukerman, conductor; Conrad Tao, piano

BEETHOVEN              Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
BEETHOVEN              Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 “Eroica”

Pre-Concert Chat (in English): Robert Harris, “Revolutionary Beethoven”

  • When Piano Concerto No. 3 was first performed in 1803, Beethoven played nearly all the solo piano part from memory since he had not had time to set it all down on paper
  • Symphony No. 3 (1804, “Eroica” is Italian for “heroic”) marks the full arrival of Beethoven’s Middle period. The symphony is a mature expression of the classical style of the late 18th century that also exhibits defining features of the Romantic style that would hold sway in the 19th century
  • Emerging Chinese-American pianist Conrad Tao was personally chosen by Pinchas Zukerman to perform in this concert


Zukerman Performs Elgar – October 2 (part of the Ovation Series)
Pinchas Zukerman, conductor/violin; Christian Vásquez, conductor

BEETHOVEN              Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36
ELGAR                        Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61

Pre-Concert Chat (in English): Eric Friesen with Pinchas Zukerman, “Elgar: Where Love and Faith Meet, There Will Be Light”

  • Pinchas Zukerman conducts Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2, and he performs Elgar’s majestic Violin Concerto under Venezuelan conductor Christian Vasquez. Pinchas Zukerman is one of the best  violinists of our time, and is known especially for the Elgar Violin Concerto
  • Beethoven's Second Symphony was written in 1801-1802, when his deafness was becoming more apparent and he began to realize that it might be incurable. The work was premiered in 1803, and was conducted by the composer. It is one of the last works of Beethoven’s Early period
  • Elgar’s Violin Concerto shows the musical legacy of Beethoven and his influence on Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934). It was composed for violinist Fritz Kreisler, who gave the premiere in London in 1910, with the composer conducting


Ode to Joy – October 4 (part of the Ovation Series)
Pinchas Zukerman, conductor; Joni Henson, soprano; Julie Bouliane, mezzo-soprano; Nicholas Phan, tenor; Kevin Deas, bass; Combined Ottawa Choruses (Ottawa Choral Society, Cantata Singers of Ottawa, Ewashko Singers, and Ottawa Festival Chorus) -- Duain Wolfe, chorus master

BEETHOVEN              Romance No. 1 in G major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 40
Pinchas Zukerman, violin      
BEETHOVEN              Overture to Egmont, Opus 84
BEETHOVEN              Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 “Choral”

Pre-Concert Chat (bilingual): Jean-Jacques Van Vlasselaer, “Beethoven and Schiller: Looking Forward and Looking Back”

  • Devoted to the human spirit, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (1824) – his final complete symphony -- is truly inspirational, one of the best-known works of the Western classical repertoire. It is universally considered to be among Beethoven's greatest works, and is considered by some to be the greatest piece of music ever written. The symphony was the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony. The words are sung during the final triumphant movement by four vocal soloists and a chorus. They were taken from “Ode to Joy”, a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803, with additions made by the composer

The four concerts of the Beethoven Festival – Evolution of a Genius will be performed in Southam Hall of the National Arts Centre on September 27 and 28 and October 2 and 4, 2012 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $22, $35, $45, $55, $70, $85, and $100, for adults and $12.50, $19, $24, $29, $36.50, $44, and $51.50 for students (upon presentation of a valid student ID card). Tickets are available at the NAC Box Office (in person) and through Ticketmaster (with surcharges) at 1-888-991-2787 (ARTS); Ticketmaster may also be accessed through the NAC’s website

Subject to availability, full-time students (aged 13-29) with valid Trinity Live Rush™ membership (free registration at may buy up to 2 tickets per performance at the discount price of $12 per ticket. Tickets are available online ( or at the NAC box office from 10 a.m. on the day before the performance until 6 p.m. on the day of the show or 2 hours before a matinee. Groups of 10 or more save 15% to 20% off regular ticket prices to all NAC Music, Theatre and Dance performances; to reserve your seats, call 613-947-7000, ext. 634 or e-mail



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Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire, Beethoven moved to Vienna in his early 20s, studying with Joseph Haydn and quickly gaining a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. His hearing began to deteriorate in his late twenties, yet he continued to compose, conduct, and perform, even after becoming completely deaf.


Beethoven composed in several musical genres and for a variety of instrument combinations. His works for symphony orchestra include nine symphonies (the Ninth Symphony includes a chorus), and about a dozen pieces of "occasional" music. He wrote seven concerti for one or more soloists and orchestra, as well as four shorter works that include soloists accompanied by orchestra. His only opera is Fidelio; other vocal works with orchestral accompaniment include two masses and a number of shorter works. His large body of compositions for piano includes 32 piano sonatas and numerous shorter pieces, including arrangements of some of his other works. Works with piano accompaniment include 10 violin sonatas, 5 cello sonatas, and a sonata for French horn, as well as numerous lieder.


Beethoven also wrote a significant quantity of chamber music. In addition to 16 string quartets, he wrote five works for string quintet, seven for piano trio, five for string trio, and more than a dozen works for various combinations of wind instruments.


Beethoven's compositional career is usually divided into Early, Middle, and Late periods. His Early period is taken to last until about 1802, the middle period from about 1803 to about 1814, and the late period from about 1815.


In his Early period, Beethoven's work was strongly influenced by his predecessors Haydn and Mozart. He also explored new directions and gradually expanded the scope and ambition of his work. Some important pieces from the Early period are the first and second symphonies, the set of six string quartets Opus 18, the first two piano concertos, and the first dozen or so piano sonatas, including the famous Pathétique sonata, Op. 13.


His Middle (Heroic) period began shortly after Beethoven's personal crisis brought on by his recognition of encroaching deafness. It includes large-scale works that express heroism and struggle. Middle-period works include six symphonies (Nos. 3–8), the last three piano concertos, the Triple Concerto and violin concerto, five string quartets (Nos. 7–11), several piano sonatas (including the Moonlight, Waldstein and Appassionata sonatas), the Kreutzer violin sonata and Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio.


Beethoven's Late period began around 1815. Works from this period are characterised by their intellectual depth, their formal innovations, and their intense, highly personal expression. The String Quartet, Op. 131 has seven linked movements, and the Ninth Symphony adds choral forces to the orchestra in the last movement. Other compositions from this period include the Missa Solemnis, the last five string quartets (including the massive Grosse Fugue) and the last five piano sonatas.


Andrea Hossack
Communications Officer, NAC Music
613-947-7000, ext. 335