All 5 Beethoven concertos in an afternoon? Well, it’s a Sunday

First Beethoven marathon of the anniversary year:

On 11 October 2020 the Concertgebouworkest and pianist Krystian Zimerman will perform all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos on one Sunday afternoon.

You comment. We couldn’t possibly.


UPDATE: Artur Pizarro will do the same thing with the Wuppertal Sinfonieorchester and Julia Jones on June 22, 2020, touring it to Lisbon and recording for Odradek.

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  • Anton Kuerti played all five in one event at Festival de Lanaudière near Montreal on August 1, 1997 with l’Orchestre Métropolitain (Yannick’s Orchestra) under Maestro Joseph Rescigno. Here’s the order: Concerto 2 (30 minutes) Pause: 5 minutes; Concerto 3 (35 minutes) Pause: 12 minutes; Concerto 4 (35 minutes) Intermission 60 minutes; Concerto 1 (36 minutes) Pause: 11 minutes; Concerto 5 (40 minutes). The event: 171 minutes (music) lasted nearly 4 hours and a half, starting soon after 7:PM and ending at close to 11:30. Attendance: 3,500.

  • I once heard Maazel conduct all 9 Beethoven symphonies in London on one day with three different orchestras. Utterly forgettable.

  • What would be good for Beethoven year would be Martha Argerich finally playing concertos 4 + 5. Like Richter, she never wanted to play them. Anybody know why ?

    • No idea. “Temperament,” I suppose, since obviously nothing is too difficult for her.

      Going off on a tangent, I have always thought there was a lot of repertoire out there that she would be wonderful at, but she’s never shown a sign of wanting to play it. The Brahms D minor concerto, for example, or the Grieg… sigh

  • He’s a great artist and definitely capable of putting together 5 amazing performances in one day. Seems like an afternoon concert plus an evening concert (3pm and 8pm) would be easier on the audience as well as the performers, but if it’s important to do them all in one concert, then I guess it’s best to start early.

  • Closer to home and in January at St David’s Hall Cardiff, the NOW and WNO orchestra with Steven Osborne and Llyr Williams plus chorus will be recreating the Beethoven Benefit Concert of 1808 given in Vienna. Start time is 4.00pm with a 90min supper break. Only a few tickets remaining.

  • Not the first. The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is performing all 32 piano sonatas in one day, on February 18th. This is a far bigger achievement than just 5 piano concertos!! About 11 hours rather just 4@

  • Way back in the 20th C. I led the first movement of the “Emperor” Concerto as part of a college music department alternative Beethovenfest. Certainly more manageable than plowing thru 9 symphonies. I actually got a studio rehearsal with the soloist the day before.

  • I once heard Claudio Arrau perform concertos 4 and 5 in one evening. One would have been enough.
    I left the concert feeling that you can get too much of a good thing after all.
    Less is more.

    • I agree. I once heard Barenboim play and conduct all five concertos on two successive nights. That was two wonderful nights for me.

      Charles Mackerras once conducted in Edinburg Beethoven’s nine symphonies, in nine separate programs containing nothing else. My kind of marathon.

  • This just reminds me of the concert I attended a couple weeks ago where Sir Andras Schiff played Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, 3, and 4 as the main program and No. 1 (3rd) and 5 (2nd and 3rd) as encores; The concert began at 8 and finished past 11. Was absolutely amazing.

  • That is something very typical of our modern society:to surprise listeners with new habbits.
    Who would listen to ALL Bee concertos in a one evening?No one I guess.
    Each concerto has its own mood and so does the listener…what about the pianist?
    I won’t go for it anyway.

  • Earlier this year the excellent Egyptian-American pianist Wael Farouk played Beethoven’s five concertos twice in under 24 hours,– ten concertos at Saturday night-Sunday matinee of th New Philharmonic under Kirk Muspratt at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. An athletic, musical,and logistical feat.

  • I remember Leon Fleisher telling me some 30+ years ago that he once organized an event featuring 5 different pianists (all women) in a Beethoven concert. I think it was in Baltimore. Anybody knows about this?

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