A Night of Beethoven

A Night of Beethoven

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Sat 31 Oct 2020, 08 pm
Saigon Opera House
07 Đồng Khởi, Bến Nghé, D.1, Hồ Chí Minh city

From the organizer:

Conductor: Lê Ha My
Violin: Mer. A. Bùi Công Duy

The Ho Chi Minh City Ballet, Symphony Orchestra and Ballet [HBSO] will stage an all-Beethoven concert as part of their celebrations of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth this year. This concert was originally scheduled for 21 Aug but had to be put on hold when all HBSO’s announced program was cancelled on 05 Aug due to the Covid19 crisis.

The works to be performed, as before, are Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and his Pastoral Symphony (Symphony Number 6), two of the composer’s most famous works.

The conductor will be Le Ha My, and the violin soloist Meritorious Artist Bui Cong Duy. Le Ha My was seen in the Saigon Opera House in September 2019 conducting a very successful Evening of Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. Bui Cong Duy is one of the most famous of Vietnam’s violinists. He won first prize and gold medal in the Tchaikovsky International Music Contest in Saint Petersburg in Russia, and today teaches selected students in Hanoi.

Beethoven’s Violin Concerto was initially seen as a problematic work. It was a failure at its first performance, with a first movement lasting 25 minutes – something totally new at that time. It wasn’t recognized as the true masterpiece it is until after Beethoven’s death. Now it has had innumerable recordings, among the most famous being by Yehudi Menuhin with Wilhelm Furtwangler conducting in 1947.

The problematic nature of the concerto is shown by the fact that it exists in different formats as Beethoven attempted to re-use his failed material. Also indicative of this is the large number of cadenzas that exist for it today.

It was two years after he finished his violin concerto that Beethoven wrote his Pastoral Symphony. It’s in five movements and each movement has a title referring to life in the countryside around Vienna.

The first movement is called “Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside”. The second is called “Scene by the brook”, and the third “Merry gathering of country folk”.

Then comes the fourth – “Thunder storm”. The final movement is entitled “Shepherd’s song. Cheerful and thankful feelings after the storm”.

For musicians, the symphony has some peculiarities. A piccolo-player is needed, but only in the fourth movement, for the thunder-storm. Special timpani effects are also required for the storm. Trumpets in special keys, plus trombones, are also required for the storm, but are retained for the final movement, and so on.

To understand the symphony as a whole, it’s necessary to see its place in Romanticism. The Romantic era in the arts, which Beethoven did a lot to inaugurate, included a changed attitude to the countryside. In the 18th century and earlier cities were generally perceived as centers of civilization, while the country was felt to be rough and even barbaric. Poets such as Wordsworth in England, and his peers in the German-speaking countries, effected a switch as a result of which country life was idealized.

Tickets are from VND 300,000 to VND 650,000, with a concession of VND 80,000 for students.


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