How many CDs do you need for the whole of Beethoven?

How many CDs do you need for the whole of Beethoven?


norman lebrecht

September 03, 2019

Especially when they keep finding new fragments.

Deutsche Grammophon gave the answer today.

In November it will be issuing a 123-disc Beethoven – The New Complete Edition, replete with several rarities.

Lang Lang will play the obscure Menuett in C major (WoO 218) and Daniel Hope performs the last notes Beethoven wrote before his death.

Andris Nelsons and the Vienna Philharmonic will record the nine symphonies, Jan Lisiecki will play the five piano concertos and Maurizio Pollini will have another go at the late sonatas.

More, more….



  • Derek says:

    I see that the Andris Nelsons, Vienna Philharmonic boxed set of the Beethoven Symphonies 1-9, consisting of 5 CD’s and 1 blu-ray audio, is due for separate release on October 4th.

  • MusicBear88 says:

    According to the DG website it’s 188 CDs, 2 DVDs, and 3 Blu-ray Audios.

    The 1997 DG Beethoven Edition came out when I was still in high school and I collected most of its 87 CDs by the time I graduated from college. I deliberately did not buy some that I owned already in other packaging. It will be interesting to see how much duplication there is in performances.

  • MusicBear88 says:

    Pardon me, the DG website contradicts itself, and it does appear to be 123 CDs when you look further.

  • Landon Paul says:

    What’s a CD? Is it that thing I bought in like 1994?

  • Cubs Fan says:

    Nope…not going to splurge this time. But the line up sure looks great:


    CD 1-15 Symphonies, Overtures etc.: Abbado, Bernstein, Böhm, Chailly, Gardiner, Giulini, Karajan, Kleiber, Monteux, Nelsons, Szell
    CD 16-23 Concertos: Argerich, Barenboim, Brendel, Buchbinder, Gulda, Kempff, Mutter, Pollini, Repin, Zimerman


    CD 24-27 Ballet Music, Incidental Music, Dances & Marches: Abbado, Chung, Karajan, Maazel, Marriner
    CD 28-31 Opera: Abbado, Gardiner


    CD 32-43 Piano Sonatas: Arrau, Ashkenazy, Brendel, Cascioli, Curzon, de Larrocha, Freire, Gilels, Grimaud, Gulda, Kissin, Kocsis, Kovacevich, Lang Lang, Lupu, Perahia, Pletnev, Pollini, Uchida
    CD 44-51 Keyboard Works


    CD 52-55 Violin Sonatas: Dumay, Kremer, Menuhin, Mutter, Perlman
    CD 56-57 Cello Sonatas: Maisky
    CD 58-59 Flute & Other Duos: Gallois, Hagen Quartett, Tuckwell
    CD 60-64 Piano Trios: Beaux Arts Trio, Mullova/Schiff/Previn, Szeryng/Kempff/Fournier
    CD 65-67 String Trios: Mutter/Giuranna/Rostropovich
    CD 68-77 String Quartets: Emerson String Quartet, Hagen Quartett, Takacs Quartet
    CD 78-81 Large Chamber Music: Amadeus Quartet


    CD 82-85 Fischer-Dieskau, Schreier, Stolte


    CD 86-92 Martineau


    CD 93 Vocal Works with Orchestra: Abbado, Tilson Thomas
    CD 94-97 Masses: Cantatas Chung, Gardiner, Karajan, Thielemann
    CD 98 Christus am Ölberge: Klee


    CD 99-101 Goerne, Hope, Koch


    CD 102-118 Busch, Fricsay, Furtwängler, Jochum, E. Kleiber, Klemperer, Nikisch, Scherchen, R. Strauss, Backhaus, Fournier, Haskil, Levin, Michelangeli, Pogorelich, S. Richter, Schnabel, Serkin
    Busch Quartet, Lindsay Quartet, Quartetto Italiano, Bartoli, Nilsson, Pavarotti, Vickers, von Otter
    BD Audio 119-121 Symphonies Piano Sonatas, String Quartets: Karajan (1962), Kempff (1960s), Amadeus Quartet (1960s)
    DVD 122/123 Symphonies 4 & 7, Fidelio: Kleiber, Bernstein

  • Esther Cavett says:

    ==Daniel Hope performs the last notes Beethoven wrote before his death.

    Is this the string quintet piece ‘Letzter musikalischer Gedanke’ ?

  • Greg Bottini says:

    The next Deutsche Grammophon Complete Edition, entitled “Beethoven – The Really Really New Complete Edition” (scheduled for release in 2027, the 200th anniversary of Beethoven’s death), will include every known recorded version of “Roll Over Beethoven”.

  • Olassus says:

    Most of us here would never buy such a collection. Reasons of duplication.

    And I want to say the record labels would help themselves by making fewer mistakes in packaging, structural and graphical.

    The smaller labels err the most, but even the conglomerates — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group — despite tradition and learned best practices, turn buyers off. Last weekend I was in a record store for two hours, which was unusual because nowadays one tends to buy online. Went with a list of 22 items, found more than a dozen of them, and left without buying a thing. Here’s why:

    — crumpled booklets (chronic with Hyperion)

    — damaged card sleeves (won’t order card-sleeve releases online for this reason)

    — tattooed press quotes (use a sticker)

    — tattooed other dumb words, or large, colored, tattooed sponsor logos

    — volume, series, collection or edition numbering (when one doesn’t want the whole set)

    — arbitrary, pandering album titles (“Destination Rachmaninov”)

    — repetition in the billing (orchestra name shown as a logo and then again as type)

    — tilted replicas of earlier album art, esp. if words are repeated (Sony Classical Opera)

    — impossible-to-live-with cover images (Louis XIV for music from 1726; beached fish-boat for Hallé’s A Sea Symphony)

    — sloppy cropping or busy edges to images

    — poor relation between image and typography

    — poorly tracked, kerned, leaded or matched, or foolishly colored or otherwise erratic typography (mastery of design software ≠ mastery of design)

    — any typography at 90 degrees (Musique d’abord, Harmonia mundi heritage)

    — square boxes like this new Beethoven (just won’t buy them; correct CD-case proportion is 14.2 cm × 12.5 cm, or 5.6 in × 4.9 in)

    — music by more than one composer in the same issue

    Is one being too fussy?

    • Esther Cavett says:

      ==Is one being too fussy?

    • gregor tassie says:

      Better sticking with LPs…..better presentation, professionalism and better sound…..

      • Robert Roy says:

        I would agree that the Lps being produced TODAY are very high quality but, alas, the dreck that was produced in the 1970’s and 80’s was pretty shoddy. Even full priced discs by the majors were not immune to the horrors of ill centred holes, flimsy thickness with some discs resembling the sort of discs that were given away free with pop magazines and wow and flutter.

        I’ve often wondered if this was due to the oil crisis of this period or were consumers being softened up to accept the CD as the answer to our prayers? I still have my first two CDs and they still sound as terrific as they did in the 80’s. My few remaining Lps, not so much. The covers were nice though.

        • Karl says:

          I remember the LPs, even brand new – tick….tick… tick…

          I bought cassette tapes, but with those you often got wow and flutter. Then the CD came along and I was saved!!

        • Petros Linardos says:

          On a few occasions I had bought boxed sets that were missing one of the LPs and contained an unrelated one instead. One of my teachers had a similar peeve.

          Back in the 1970s, LPs could sound great if one had a first class stylus and if the records were sparkling clean. The latter was always complicated and could be time consuming.

        • David K. Nelson says:

          Now and then I find yet another CD from years ago that has suffered from the infamous “bronzing” with resulting deterioration in sound. Unfortunately the great rarities preserved on the old Pearl label all seem to have this blight. But so does every release on the Nuova Era label which had some exceptionally interesting performances by Italian artists.

        • Gregor Tassie says:

          I think that LPs were produced at a higher technical level than CDs, LPs, of course, had defects but to get the best listening one had to have a good cartridge and stylus and player. I have a Linn Sondek and listening to my old LPs is often as good as sitting in a concert hall. I have always been disappointed by the sterilized sound from CDs and all the problems of packaging, tiny texts, poorly produced plastic boxes all deter me from buying CDs. If one takes care of LPs you will have many years of listening pleasure. There is nothing better than taking your LP from its sleeve and placing it on the turntable!

      • Jean says:

        I bet they will be creating a 123 LP set for you…..

      • Steve says:

        Not better sound. Worse.

    • Karl says:

      Is one being too fussy? Yes. How does the music sound? Isn’t that what’s important?

      • Olassus says:

        Certainly, but you want a package that is in good condition and graphically smart as well.

        Gregor Tassie, above, is generally right. There was a time when these companies — or the best of them anyway — made a real effort.

    • Sheila Novitz says:

      No. You are not being too fussy. You are being absolutely correct. Thank you.

  • Fiddlist says:

    Yes let’s print more CD’s and cases and leaflets of new Beethoven recordings of pieces which have already been recorded thousands of times in an era of Global Warming. Purposeless, self-adoring BS.

    • Spamalot says:

      streaming is probably just as bad for the environment.

    • Sheila Novitz says:

      Fiddlist, I would like to break this to you very gently: We have been in an era of global warming since the ice of the Ice Age began melting. Lines made by the tops of glaciers hundreds/thousands of years ago are still visible in many countries. We are arrogant enough to believe we can do something to change or stop the warming. This is nonsense.
      We cannot make rain come during drought. We cannot stop floods, hurricanes or cyclones. But we believe scientists who tell us we can stop global warming??

      • Cyril Blair says:

        We could have stopped it if we started 20 years ago. However now it’s probably too late. Maybe the best we could do now (if we stopped all industrial carbon emissions) is slow it down.

  • Karl says:

    Will it have Musik zu einem Ritterballet, WoO 1? No collection is complete without that. I’ve seen it translated as Music to a Knight Ballet or Music for a Ballet on Horseback.

  • Alan says:

    Any idea if Pollini sonatas can be bought separately?