LSO joins Beethoven anniversary to Alban Berg

LSO joins Beethoven anniversary to Alban Berg


norman lebrecht

February 21, 2019

Simon Rattle’s third season with the London Symphony Orchestra, just rolled out, features a limited acknowledgement of Beethoven’s 250th birthday in which three major works will be paired with music by Alban Berg, who has no particular anniversary.

From the blurb: The LSO join with the Barbican in celebration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary year in early 2020 playing a series of concerts pairing Beethoven’s works with music by Alban Berg. The opening two programmes include Beethoven’s Symphony No 7, with later performances of two great choral works, the Ninth Symphony and the rarely performed oratorio Christ on the Mount of Olives. Sir Simon describes the piece as ‘very rarely performed and I simply cannot make out for the life of me why that is. This is from his most incredible creative period – around the Eroica and the Fourth Symphony, terribly difficult to sing but really a masterpiece’. Christ on the Mount of Olives will be a highlight of the LSO European tour dates for 2019/20. To complete the LSO’s homage to Beethoven in May 2020 acclaimed violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter returns to play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the LSO conducted by Manfred Honeck.

Four women conductors are featured –  Karina Canellakis, Elim Chan, Susanna Mälkki and Nathalie Stutzmann.



  • We privatize your value says:

    “Christ on the Mount of Olives” is NOT a masterpiece. Just ask Theodor W. Adorno, or rather, re-read that great man’s essay “Verfremdetes Hauptwerk” on the Missa Solemnis, where he deals with that work, too.

    • Hermann Lederer says:

      Adorono wrote a lot of interesting essays on music. And a lot if rubbish too. „Verfremdetes Hauptwerk“ belings partly to the second category. Christus am Ölberg is a masterpiece as it is Mahler VIII although Adorno destested it. Read more the scores and less secondary literature. It helps….

      • We privatize your value says:

        Well, I do agree with him on Mahler VIII, because I definitely prefer Mahler VII. On the other hand, he truly wrote dreadful stuff about Sibelius and, to a lesser extent, Stravinsky.

        • Petros Linardos says:

          I don’t need Adorno to legitimize my dislike of Mahler’s 8th symphony. I don’t understand why Mahler’s songs don’t attract as much attention as his symphonies. For me Mahler’s songs are the real deal.

    • Bruce says:

      Well, who am I to like a piece if Adorno says I shouldn’t? I’ll make a note to myself to be unimpressed when/ if I ever do hear this piece.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Beethoven on Berg, after listening an imaginary concert: ”Poor fellow, he must be deafer than myself.”

    • John Borstlap says:

      A bit unfair….. Berg is a brilliant composer. But he and Beethoven are entirely opposite composers, they have nothing to do with each other, they wrote their music with mutually exclusive intentions.

      ‘The music of Berg always reminds me of an old lady of whom is told how beautiful she was when she was young’. (Stravinsky)

    • Harrumph says:

      Contrary to your received conventional opinions, Berg was infinitely more gifted than deaf old Ludwig.

  • msc says:

    I was hoping the anniversary would bring more attention to works like “Christ on the mount of olives,” the cantata for Joseph II, “Calm sea and prosperous voyage,” and even the still sadly underperformed Mass in C. “Leonore” should also be revived. His chamber music outside of the quartets, piano trios, and violin and cello sonatas are also bizarrely uncommon.

  • Esther Cavett says:

    “Christ on the Mount of Olivezzzzzzzzzzz

  • Esther Cavett says:

    Check out the tint number of BBC Proms performances of Christ on the Mount of Olives. Never been done complete, only a few extracts, generally the overture plus a couple of songs.

    Two proms in 1906 , one in 1907, one in 1935 and …..err… that’s it

  • Saxon Broken says:

    The Barbican has two complete cycles being performed over the year. A weekend affair in which all nine symphonies are performed over two days. And Gardiner and the ORR are performing them all in order in one week.

    Personally I think the LSO has it just about right by giving us a chance to hear something not heard very often during the anniversary year. They are doing something similar by performing Berlioz’ Romeo and Juliet. My view is this is exactly what anniversaries are for (rather than rehashed war-horses that are played regularly anyway).