HBSO announce another concert celebrating Beethoven’s anniversary

HCMC - On Saturday November 28 the HCMC Ballet, Symphony Orchestra and Opera (HBSO) will present another evening celebrating the 250th anniversary of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s birth. The program contains his first great symphony and his last and greatest piano concerto.

Nguyen Duc Anh will be the soloist at the concert – PHOTO: COURTESY OF HBSO

The piano concerto will come first. It’s known as the “Emperor” concerto. No-one knows why it received this nickname – it may have been on account of its general grandeur and melodiousness. Beethoven himself originally intended to dedicate his Third Symphony, the “Eroica”, to Napoleon Bonaparte, but withdrew the dedication after Napoleon declared himself “Emperor” in 1804. The two items in the HBSO’s concert are therefore indirectly linked.

Beethoven may have wanted to be the solo pianist in the concerto’s premier but his increasing deafness made this impossible. Instead, the first performance was given by an archduke, Rudolf, who was a friend and piano pupil of Beethoven’s.

In HCMC the soloist will be Nguyen Duc Anh. Born into a musical family in Hanoi, he completed his studies at the University of Music in Freiburg, Germany, graduating with the highest honors. He returned to Vietnam two months ago and has been appointed head of the piano department at HCMC’s Soul Music and Performing Arts Academy.

Almost every famous pianist has recorded the Emperor Concerto. Glenn Gould recorded it with Leopold Stokowski and again with Kark Ancerl, and Claudio Arrau recorded it four times.

The work is in the traditional three movements. The first opens with the piano in magnificent style, while the second and third movements are linked.

After an intermission comes Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, his Symphony Number 3.

“Eroica” means “heroic” and was a substitute for Beethoven’s initial dedication of the symphony to Napoleon. On being told that Napoleon had called himself “Emperor” Beethoven reportedly tore off the first page of the score, angrily exclaiming that this proved Napoleon was a proud and ambitious mortal after all.

The symphony was then subtitled “Sinfonia eroica, composed to celebrate the memory of a great man.” “Memory” implies that Napoleon was still in Beethoven’s mind, but in his younger manifestation as the savior of the principles of equality and freedom of the French Revolution.

Nevertheless, the symphony is an extraordinary achievement. It is greater in range, length and emotional depth than any symphony previously written, and has been widely proclaimed the first “Romantic” symphony.

In it Beethoven uses phrases from some of his previous compositions, but this doesn’t matter. The greatness and magnificence of the symphony are assured. Its harmonic daring, its length, and the general novelty that characterizes the entire work have guaranteed it a central place in the history of music.

The conductor of the concert will be the HBSO’s Tran Nhat Minh, someone who knows Beethoven’s works like few others.

Tickets are from VND650,000 downwards, with a special concession for students of VND80,000 on production of a valid student card.

The event will take place in the Saigon Opera House and begins at 8 p.m.