Dear Beethovenfest Fans,

‘Rise again, yes, rise again …

… wilt thou, my dust, after a brief rest!’

Thus the opening lines of Friedrich Gottlob Klopstock’s ‘The Resurrection’, the poem that Gustav Mahler set to music in his Second Symphony. It was the first time that he had woven the human voice into a symphony tapestry, just as Beethoven had done in his Ninth. We have chosen these hopefilled lines as the motto of our 2021 Beethovenfest.

Beethoven’s Ninth will resound at the beginning, Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony at the close. Beethoven’s fi nal pronouncement at one end, Mahler’s continuation and glorifi cation at the other. In ist genesis, the Ninth is closely connected with the ‘Missa solemnis’. For this reason the ‘Missa’ will already be presented in Cologne Cathedral in May – not without a surprising interlude. Cologne will also host an international youth orchestra venturing to play ‘Gruppen’, a monumental, spatially conceived work by Karlheinz Stockhausen.

The orchestral works to be heard at the 2021 Beethovenfest are marked by a penchant for the universal and the spiritual. Among them will be Schubert and Bruckner ‘favourites’ played by the Vienna Philharmonic, and Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem and Stravinsky’s ‘Symphony of Psalms’, performed by the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées.

Major birthdays can also be celebrated ex post facto. All nine Beethoven symphonies will resound from fi ve European orchestras, three of them with ‘period sound’ and two in modern garb. These familiar works will thus be heard in contrasting readings, conveying a sense of Beethoven as a citizen of the world. As a delicate echo the nine symphonies will also be given in Franz Liszt’s piano transcriptions, which only supreme virtuosos are capable of mastering.

Show musical developments, risk musical overwritings: these are the aesthetic strategies of the Beethovenfest. Proceeding from Beethoven’s late sonatas, the pianist Marino Formenti will take us on a journey through modernism and the present day; two of Beethoven’s string quartets will be translated into contemporary body language and imagery; and fi nally Prometheus will inspire a new work from Romeo Castellucci, an artist steeped in mythology. Distinguished soloists, brilliant chamber ensembles and seasoned conductors characterise the 2021 Beethovenfest. We also look toward the future with a well-designed outreach programme.

‘From the heart – may it go to the heart!’ That is how we wish to welcome our audience – with Ludwig van Beethoven’s own words.

Yours sincerely,

Nike Wagner