On Saturday nights from 9pm to 10pm, John Suchet presents ‘Beethoven – The Man Revealed’, a year-long series about Beethoven’s life, celebrating 250 years since the great composer’s birth.
Throughout the landmark 52-week series, John will reveal the dramas, loves, conflicts and successes of the musical genius, offering listeners an unprecedented insight into the man behind the music.
Saturday 8 August
This week, John focuses on Beethoven’s turbulent year of 1808 – in which we find the great composer in a foul mood, having been finally rebuffed by the long-term focus of his amorous advances, and awaiting a long-promised date for a highly prestigious benefit concert that had been cancelled several times.
John discovers a piano trio that seems entirely different to anything he had written before, nicknamed ‘Ghost’ because of its eerie quality. He also reveals the setting of a Goethe poem that Beethoven struggled to compose, saying “I did not have enough time to produce a good one, so here are several attempts”; and John plays one of Beethoven’s best-loved symphonies, written as the composer escaped the stress of the city, to the calm of the countryside; his ‘Pastoral’ symphony.
Saturday 15 August
John explores the night that should have been one of the greatest of Beethoven’s professional life, but was in fact a cold December night with an under-par orchestra in front of an unforgiving audience. John reveals why the evening was such a disaster, and plays one of the arias that was sung that night; a performance that the soprano got dramatically wrong.
John also reveals the piano sonata Beethoven gave as a parting gift to one of his patrons escaping the war and panic that was engulfing Vienna, and discovers how Beethoven was persuaded to stay in the city to compose his final, and most mighty Piano Concerto: the ‘Emperor’.