Ode to Joy

Beethoven Super Sunday gets off to a flying start!
Beethoven Super Sunday gets off to a flying start!

A green plaque commemorating the first UK performance of the RPS’s most famous commission, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, was unveiled yesterday on Regent Street. The plaque marks the former site of the New Argyll Rooms, which is now a NatWest bank. It was unveiled by RPS Chairman, John Gilhooly and Councillor Michael Brahams, Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London. The occasion was accompanied by a new fanfare by Bertie Baigent, a young composer from the National Youth Orchestra, performed by players from the NYO.

PlaqueThen it was straight off to the Royal Albert Hall for more Beethoven 9 celebrations with the NYO at the BBC Proms. (Take a look at last week’s blog, where NYO musicians talked about the unforgettable experience of playing at the Proms). Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was preceded by the world premiere of Frieze, a Beethoven-inspired RPS co-commission by English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage.

A bow for Beethoven Bust
A bow for Beethoven Bust

The NYO shared the Royal Albert Hall stage with singers from across the British Isles – and of course the Society’s bust of Beethoven, who kept an eye on proceedings from his perch in front of Vasily Petrenko’s podium. Not so dissimilar, then, to the 1824 premiere of the 9th Symphony in Vienna, when the by-then profoundly deaf composer stood behind the conductor to guide the tempo. Beethoven was oblivious to the applause which erupted at the end of the work, until one of the soloists turned him around to face the audience.

Rapturous applause from a packed Albert Hall also greeted last night’s performance – a fantastic end to our Beethoven Super Sunday. Huge congratulations to all the performers!

Missed the Prom? You can listen on iPlayer until 17th August. The concert will also be broadcast on BBC4 in 2 parts on 18th August and 6th September.

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