Orchestra plays Beethoven for free, manager bursts into tears

The French period instrument orchestra Les Siècles learned yesterday that half of its Beethoven symphony cycle had been cancelled due to Coronavirus. The musicians went ahead and played the 5th and 7th symphonies last night with François-Xavier Roth at the Opéra Royal de Versailles to an empty hall.

The performers, who are all freelance, knew they were not being paid.

During interviews in the intermission, the general manager couldn’t help bursting into tears.

The video will remain up for a year.


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  • He is not alone in finding this an emotional undertaking. An enormous thank you to these musicians, Maestro Roth and all who made it possible.

  • Les Siecles are all freelancers! That makes M. Roth’s achievement all the more remarkable, and concerns for the group’s future all the more serious. I hope they have generous donors to help see them through this fallow period.

  • It is time for group performances to stop. These seem like nice virtuous gestures but they are also selfish. If any one of those players has the virus they are endangering others. Norman, you should start scolding not encouraging these things.

  • When words can no longer quell doubts, fears and reason, turn to music for hope and a brighter future. Thank you to the orchestra Les Siecles and Maestro Roth.

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