On the 2018 motto: 'Fate'


Fate is a key concept from the Beethovenian cosmos – a cosmos full of sorrow and suffering. Beethoven was still a young man when deafness began its work of destruction upon him. As he wrote in 1801, ’I have often cursed the Creator and my existence...‘.

These words are taken from the ’Heiligenstadt Testament‘, written when the composer was 30 years old. It is this figure that stands at the midpoint of our 2018 Beethovenfest – a figure close to suicide, yet with growing powers of resistance. To ’grab Fate by the throat‘ is his battle cry. Fittingly, the four-note motif of the Fifth – ’Fate knocking at the door‘ – has dominated our image of Beethoven for over 200 years. Even his final sonatas are but variations on his life‘s guiding urge: to ’subjugate‘ Fate.

Beethoven‘s Fifth will be heard several times, once from a full orchestra, again with ’period sound‘ and yet again in a version for piano eight-hands. It forms the overriding theme of our entire programme – from C minor to C major.

And there are many works that touch on the Last Things – late works, Requiems, Masses, funeral marches, songs of Fate, thrilling stories of downfall such as ’La damnation de Faust‘, and testimonials from those modern-day experiences that Napoleon summed up with the words: ’The Politics is the fate‘.

Our programme also has islands that breathe life into the musical surroundings of the young Beethoven. Or that celebrate another jubilarian, Rossini. Or that present contemporary music: a world première that ’overwrites‘ Beethoven‘s Third Piano Concerto, a choreography that draws on the energy of the ’Tempest‘ Sonata ...

The festival will open on Bonn‘s Market Square with Beethoven‘s Ninth. We will hear it in the Leonard Bernstein version, blending the ecstasy of the ’Ode to Joy‘ with the euphoria that surrounded the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989.

Welcome to the 2018 Beethovenfest!