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» » BBC Radio Three Composer of the Week - Beethoven
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  • Composer of the Week Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) - 1. Bonn Beginnings.m4a (136.9 MB)
  • Composer of the Week Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) - 5. Three Late Masterpieces.m4a (136.7 MB)
  • Composer of the Week Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) - 4. From the Ridiculous to the Sublime.m4a (135.5 MB)
  • Composer of the Week Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) - 2. Summer in Heiligenstadt.m4a (135.2 MB)
  • Composer of the Week Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) - 3. Too Much of a Good Thing.m4a (135.1 MB)

Composer of the Week. Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Composer of the Week. Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week. The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years. Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem. What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer of the Week. Donald Macleod explores Beethoven the pianist and composer for the piano. Higher quality (128kbps). Lower quality (64kbps). Release date: 19 January 2018.

Artistically it identified her as one of the most outstanding composers of her generation, with the prospect of a great future ahead

Artistically it identified her as one of the most outstanding composers of her generation, with the prospect of a great future ahead. Tragically she was not to have long to fulfil that expectancy.

There are so many great stories.

Starting life as This Week's Composer on the Home Service in 1943, the programme is among the longest-running in the corporation's history, behind Desert Island Discs which started a year earlier. There are so many great stories. The story of Beethoven's life is fantastic, so you only have to tell them and combined with - let's face it - some of the greatest music ever composed, what's not to like? In your 14 years, are there any particular programmes that you have been proud of? I wouldn't say that I'm particularly proud of any of them, I hope I do my job as well as I can.

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Radio 3 is the successor station to the BBC Third Programme which . The Beethoven Experience: A manuscript page of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Radio 3 is the successor station to the BBC Third Programme which began broadcasting on 29 September 1946. The name Radio 3 was adopted on 30 September 1967 when the BBC launched its first pop music station, Radio 1:247 and rebranded its national radio channels as Radio 1, Radio 2 (formerly the Light Programme), Radio 3, and Radio 4 (formerly the Home Service). the revered Composer of the Week and would be presented by a signing from Classic FM – the disc jockey Paul Gambaccini.

Listen to programmes about the lives and works of some of the greatest classical composers. See the full list of Radio 3 programmes about composers and their works.

BBC Radio 3. Composer of the Week. Listen to programmes about the lives and works of some of the greatest classical composers. Composers A to Z. The Story of Music. Howard Goodall and Suzy Klein discuss 50 pieces that changed the course of music history. Weekly recommendations, helping you build a library of the best classical music recordings.

Composer of the Week BBC Radio 3. Five understated and languorous programmes celebrated the bicentenary . Five understated and languorous programmes celebrated the bicentenary of the Royal Philharmonic Society (5-9 August, 6pm) the UK’s oldest and most illustrious concert society. It was established in 1813 (just a few weeks after the seismic publication of Pride and Prejudice) by 30 professional musicians – many of whom hated each other – with the goal of funding London’s first purpose-built orchestral hall and putting classical music on a par artistically with the Royal Academy of Arts. Of the many works commissioned and premiered by the RPS, it was Beethoven’s.

BBC Radio 3's Composer Of The Week is a guide to composers and their .

BBC Radio 3's Composer Of The Week is a guide to composers and their music. Donald Macleod explores the life and work of Ludwig van Beethoven, focusing on how he transformed the classical legacy of Haydn and Mozart. Music featured: Summertime That Certain Feeling Three Preludes Piano Concerto in F Has Anyone Seen Joe The Real American Folk Song Fascinating Rhythm Embraceable You I Got Rhythm I Got Rhythm Variations Someone to Watch Over Me Rhapsody in Blue Second Rhapsody American in Paris Strike Up the Band Overture Cuban Overture My Man's Gone Now I Got Plenty of Nothin' Bess

Bonn Beginnings
BBC Radio Three, Composer of the Week, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Episode 1 of 5
Beethoven's home town of Bonn is where he learnt to be a composer. Donald Macleod tells the story of the maestro's apprentice years, and presents some of his neglected early works.
If Bonn had had a child protection unit in the 1770s, its officers would probably have been frequent callers at 24 Rheingasse, the Beethoven family home. A neighbour might have heard little Ludwig calling out from the cellar where he had been locked by his drunkard father Johann, or witnessed one of the regular beatings Johann administered to 'encourage' his son to practice the piano. Yet from this abusive background, Ludwig van Beethoven emerged as the greatest musician of his age - the composer who absorbed the Classical legacy of Haydn and Mozart, then utterly transformed it. This week, Donald Macleod charts the course of this transformation in a series of five extended snapshots of Beethoven's life and work, from his first attempts at composition to the extraordinary productions of his final years.
Today's programme surveys Beethoven's last ten years in Bonn, before his permanent move to Vienna in 1792. Along with his father, the cast of characters includes his grandfather, also named Ludwig, a previous court kapellmeister; his teacher, Christian Gottlob Neefe, who spotted Beethoven's prodigious talent and did everything he could to foster it; his mother, whose death in 1787 left deep scars on the 16-year-old composer; Maximilian Franz, Elector of Cologne and Beethoven's employer in his post as a sprucely liveried court musician; Mozart, with whom Beethoven may or may not have studied briefly; and Papa Haydn, with whom Beethoven was to have an uneasy pupil-teacher relationship in Vienna. The musical soundtrack includes an early piano quartet that Beethoven would later mine for material when he came to write his first published piano sonatas, and two early masterpieces: an ambitious set of 24 Variations on an operatic air by Righini, and the Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II, of which Brahms remarked, when the manuscript resurfaced almost a century later, "it is Beethoven through and through".
Broadcast: 20 April 2015
Duration: 1 hour
Summer in Heiligenstadt
Composer of the Week, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Episode 2 of 5
For Beethoven, 1802 marked both an emotional nadir and a peak of creativity. Donald Macleod explores how the composer's acceptance of his deafness spawned a string of masterpieces.
Today's programme focuses on six months in 1802, when Beethoven, on doctor's orders, took a rest-cure in the tiny, picturesque spa-town of Heiligenstadt. For some years the composer's hearing had been deteriorating but, by 1801, things had started to reach crisis point. In June of that year Beethoven wrote a despairing letter to his childhood friend Franz Wegeler, now a distinguished medic. Wegeler recommended a change of doctor, and it was the new man - Johann Adam Schmidt - who advised Beethoven to abscond to Heiligenstadt to give his hearing a rest away from the noisy bustle of Vienna. Here Beethoven wrote the document known by posterity as the Heiligenstadt Testament - a letter to his brothers, to be read only after his death, in which he expressed despair at his hearing loss but determination nonetheless to fulfil what he felt to be his artistic destiny. His productivity during the summer of 1802 bears witness to that determination; here he wrote or completed his 2nd Symphony, the three violin sonatas Op 30, two of the piano sonatas Op 31, and more besides.
Broadcast: 21 April 2015
Duration: 1 hour
Too Much of a Good Thing
Composer of the Week, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Episode 3 of 5
Beethoven unveils his 5th and 6th symphonies, 4th piano concerto and more besides in a four-hour concert in the biting cold of a Viennese December. Donald Macleod asks why.
Today's programme homes in on a single day, the 22nd of December 1808, when Beethoven mounted an extraordinary 'benefit' concert - that is, a concert for his own financial benefit, in the Theater an der Wien. He had been petitioning the authorities for months for permission to do this, and eventually he took the only date he could get, despite the fact that it clashed with a major charity event being held on the same evening in another theatre. That, though, turned out to be the least of Beethoven's problems, foremost of which was the temperature inside the auditorium, which he couldn't afford to heat. Then there was the programme; four hours' worth of the most challenging new music - difficult for an audience under the most favourable of conditions, let along listening inside an icebox. To make matters worse, Beethoven had fallen out with the orchestral musicians at a previous concert, and they refused to rehearse with him. The evening concluded with the Choral Fantasia, which the composer had hastily finished off to provide a suitably grand conclusion to the proceedings. In the event, the performance came so badly unstuck that Beethoven had to stop the music halfway through and start again from the top. As one contemporary who shivered his way through the whole evening observed, "one can easily have too much of a good thing".
Broadcast: 22 April 2015
Duration: 1 hour
From the Ridiculous to the Sublime
Composer of the Week, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Episode 4 of 5
Donald Macleod explains how the phenomenal success of Beethoven's trashy potboiler Wellington's Victory had positive repercussions; it led to the revised version of Fidelio.
Today's programme charts one of the most extraordinary episodes in Beethoven's life, from late 1813 to the end of the following year. For the previous decade, Europe had been dogged by the Napoleonic Wars. Now Napoleon's fortunes were beginning to unravel, and in June 1813, Austria abandoned its neutrality and joined the alliance against the French. In the same month, the French army, fighting under Napoleon's brother, Joseph I, was defeated by Wellington at the Battle of Vitoria. Vienna was awash with a tide of patriotic fervour, and that's when the imperial court mechanician, Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, came to Beethoven with an unusual proposal - would he compose a patriotic piece celebrating Wellington's victory? The work was originally to be written not for orchestra but for the Panharmonicon, a bellows-powered contraption-in-a-case of Mälzel's invention that could reproduce the sounds of a military band. Beethoven agreed, but in the event he produced an orchestral version instead. Premièred at a public concert in December 1813, this fatuous work became an immediate sensation, and several more performances followed. By the law of unexpected consequences, when the management of the Viennese court opera were looking for a new production, they turned to the most successful composer of the moment: Beethoven. They approached him with a view to staging his opera Fidelio, and he agreed, but only on the basis that he would be able to revise it completely - in the process, creating the version most widely performed to this day.
Broadcast: 23 April 2015
Duration: 1 hour
Three Late Masterpieces
Composer of the Week, Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) Episode 5 of 5
In today's programme, Donald Macleod unpicks the overlapping origins of three late Beethoven masterpieces: the Missa Solemnis, the Diabelli Variations and the 9th Symphony.
Today's programme picks up the trail in the early months of 1819, with Beethoven planning to write a High Mass for the installation of his patron and pupil, Archduke Rudolph, as Archbishop of Olmütz the following March. In the event, the scale of the work grew so far beyond his original conception that Beethoven overshot his self-imposed deadline by three years. Meanwhile, another commission had come along. The publisher, Anton Diabelli, wanted to bring out a patriotic collection of piano variations on a light-hearted waltz of his own composition, to be contributed by the 50 most celebrated composers and virtuosi of the Austrian empire. Each composer was to provide a single variation, Beethoven included. Something about the project evidently fascinated him because, instead of one variation, he ultimately came up with 33 - his largest and many would say greatest piano work. So he broke off work on the mass to write the first two-thirds of the Diabellis. He then set those aside for another new commission, to compose three more piano sonatas; they would be his last. Only then, in 1822, did he return to the mass, when he also started work on the 9th Symphony. That too was set aside while he completed the Diabelli Variations, after which he polished off the 9th. Confused? You won't be after today's show.
Broadcast: 24 April 2015
Duration: 1 hour

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