The Royal Philharmonic Society has commissioned a new orchestral work in response to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, to be premiered at next year’s BBC Proms.
The Society originally commissioned Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in 1817 for the sum of 50 guineas. The work to be performed next year is part of the celebrations of the Society’s 200th anniversary and will be premiered by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and conductor Vasily Petrenko at the Proms in 2013.
The Royal Philharmonic Society will also mark the milestone with 16 new works inspired by Benjamin Britten – whose centenary also falls next year. Harrison Birtwistle, Wolfgang Rihm, Judith Weir and Richard Rodney Bennett will all write new works inspired by the British composer.
Speaking at the launch of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 200th anniversary celebrations, pianist Alfred Brendel said: ‘Throughout its history, the Society has made choices which today may seem prescient, but at the time were brave and bold – wonderful pieces by Beethoven and Mendelssohn, but also by Bartók, Elliott Carter or Lutosławski which brought the shock of the new to audiences yet have become part of the repertoire and continue to resonate, enthrall, or at times, tantalise and frustrate, today.
‘It’s good to hear that the RPS is continuing to stir things up, and growing old disgracefully: please keep commissioning composers, keep supporting musicians, keep talking about music and keep championing excellence.’
The Society will mark the exact anniversary of its foundation with a concert on 24 January 2013 from the Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor Tugan Sokhiev at the Royal Festival Hall, London. The concert, which will be broadcast on Radio 3, will include works by Mendelssohn, Brahms and Dvořák – composers closely associated with the Society.
But it’s Beethoven who features most heavily in the raft of other events scheduled to celebrate the anniversary. A series of exhibitions at the Barbican Centre, London, the British Library and the Morgan Library, New York will include a rare copyist’s score of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as well as letters from Beethoven himself, Mendelssohn, Wagner and Dvořák.
A new iPad app will launch early next year focusing on Beethoven’s monumental Symphony and, in addition, the Royal Philharmonic Society’s 19th-century bust of Beethoven will tour the country to appear at the society’s anniversary concerts.