Richard Armitage narrates story of Beethoven’s Ninth in 200th anniversary Classic FM radio special

30 April 2024, 09:42 | Updated: 7 May 2024, 16:38

Genius of Joy: The Story of Beethoven’s Ninth
Genius of Joy: The Story of Beethoven’s Ninth. Picture: Alamy
Classic FM

By Classic FM

We’re celebrating 200 years of a groundbreaking symphony with a special radio programme narrated by English actor, Richard Armitage.

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2024 is 200 years since the first performance of one of the greatest works ever composed – Beethoven’s epic ‘Choral’ Symphony No.9 and the extraordinary final movement, the ‘Ode to Joy’.

To mark the anniversary of this musical masterpiece, we are celebrating with a special one-off radio programme – Genius of Joy: The Story of Beethoven’s Ninth, on Monday 6 May 2024 at 7pm.

Narrated by English actor Richard Armitage, the programme will explore the story of the creation and premiere of Beethoven’s Ninth, with cameo roles from Classic FM presenters – including Alexander Armstrong as Ludwig van Beethoven.

Composed between 1822 and 1824, the Ninth premiered in Vienna on 7 May 1824 after fermenting in Beethoven’s mind for more than 30 years. It was the composer’s final completed symphony and a groundbreaking work, as the first symphony ever to include vocal parts.

Today, it is one of the most performed symphonies around the world, from concert halls to town squares (watch below). Every year at Christmas, 5,000 amateur chorus members gather to sing the Ninth in Japan’s capital city, Tokyo.

Catch up on ‘Genius of Joy’ on Global Player for 30 days >

Beethoven Symphony No 9 Flashmob in Nuremberg, Germany.

The radio special will be based on Beethoven’s letters to his friend, pupil and composer Ferdinand Ries, played in the radio programme by Stephen Mangan.

Armitage, whose most famous screen appearances include The Hobbit, North and South and the current TV thriller Red Eye, studied the flute and cello as a child and often listens to classical music to prepare for his film and TV characters.

Richard Armitage to narrate Beethoven special on Classic FM in celebration of Ninth Symphony
Richard Armitage to narrate Beethoven special on Classic FM in celebration of Ninth Symphony. Picture: Classic FM/Matt Crossick

After the special, Beethoven expert and Classic FM presenter John Suchet will play out the Ninth Symphony in full and guide us through it, giving each movement context and telling us what to be listening out for.

Catch up with ‘Genius of Joy: The Story of Beethoven’s Ninth’ narrated by Richard Armitage here on Global Player – available for 30 days.