World premiere of "Beethoven's Heiligenstadt Testament"

On the 18th of December 2008 Munich was the venue of the first performance of the symphonic fragments "Beethoven's Heiligenstadt Testament" by Rodion Shchedrin - a commissioned composition for the Symphonic Orchestra of the Bavarian Radio. The famous letter of Beethoven to his brothers Carl and Johann served as the basis for this work. Beethoven pointed out for the first time the whole pain of this hopeless desperation in respect of his developing deafness, which tired him out for some time and was nerve racking.

This important historical document, written by Beethoven in 1802 during the stay at a health resort in Heiligenstadt (today a suburb of Vienna), is an irrefutable proof of a dramatic crisis in the life of this great musician, from which he nevertheless - not least thanks to his music - found a glorious way out. "From darkness to light!" - with this idiom Rodion Shchedrin expressed the main idea of his musical message, in which the overcoming of a serious crisis and the rebirth of the personality through creative activity should take a central issue.

With the help of various compositional means Shchedrin succeeded miraculously in converting this tragic moment in the life of Beethoven to the music, in creating a convincing musical conflict with matching colours and nuances of sound. Remarkably Shchedrin handles with the orchestration of his composition. Even if he limits the size to the orchestra from Beethoven's time, but he uses the sound possibilities of a modern orchestra. Masterfully Shchedrin approaches the musical ideas and the dramaturgical thinking of Beethoven, meanwhile being true to himself, he is successful by imprinting his own stamp on the composition.

The premiere, which took place at the Munich Philharmonic in Gasteig, was conducted by Mariss Jansons: "It is an indescribable feeling when a giant of music like Mariss Jansons is standing on the conductor's stand of such a wonderful orchestra as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra! And I am overjoyed and proud about the musical and human friendship which connects me with such a unique artist like Mariss Jansons." (Rodion Shchedrin)

The next performance of this work takes place on 15th March 2009 in New York (Carnegie Hall) once more conducted by Mariss Jansons.