Don’t look now, but the 21st century is already two decades old. It’s old enough to vote, drink and get married. So shake off that post-Millennium hangover and listen – because we can already hear its voice. The fact that 2020 also happens to be Beethoven’s 250th birthday is almost beside the point. The question is: what does Beethoven bring to the party here and now, in London in 2020?
Throughout the year, 2020 Vision offers an answer. Just as the defining masterpieces of Beethoven and his contemporaries punctuated the first two decades of the 19th century, we’ve chosen pieces that we believe represent the definitive sound of the 21st – each one separated by exactly two centuries from Beethoven’s world. A piece from 1801 encounters a piece from 2001. Beethoven meets Adès, Dutilleux and Knussen. Louis Spohr encounters Einojuhani Rautavaara.
And between them, in a world simultaneously like and entirely unlike that of 1820 or 2020, comes the generation of 1900-1920: the composers of the fin de siècle who saw a century remade in war. Who realised that Sibelius’s Second Symphony came exactly a century after Beethoven’s; that Philip Glass, Rachmaninoff, Méhul and Ravi Shankar all form part of the same big picture? 2020 Vision brings them together to hear what they have to say to each other, and to us: a fascinatingly fresh perspective on familiar classics, alongside music we should never have forgotten and the pieces that everyone who lives in the 21st century needs to hear. That includes you.
2001: New century, new sounds | 8 February 2020
Join us for the debut concert in our 2020 Vision festival, as Vladimir Jurowski celebrates Beethoven’s birthday the way he would have wanted: a conversation between the past, the present and the future of music - as well as Beethoven’s First Symphony, of course!
2002: Three adventures | 19 February 2020
Beethoven and Sibelius’ Second Symphonies - arguably some of the 19th and 20th Centuries’ greatest symphonic triumphs - are accompanied by Petrenko and Josefowicz’s colourful performance of Knussen’s 2002 Violin Concerto.
2003: Fantasy and revolution | 22 February 2020
A mainstay in any list of best symphonies, Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ threatens to overshadow any piece programmed with it. Widmann’s haunting Lied for Orchestra undoubtedly doesn’t allow that to happen, with Ravel’s escapist fantasy Shéhérazade completing the programme.
2004: New visions | 26 February 2020
The late Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Book of Visions brings enchanting warmth to this late February concert, with the dreams of summer lingering in the air and music alike. Sergej Krylov champions Spohr in a show-stopping performance of his Violin Concerto No. 2.
2005: Poetry and belief | 28 February 2020
Revolutions need not be noisy. Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto may not start loud, presenting an enigma that Osmo Vänskä and Jeremy Denk relish in teasing an audience with. A concert of music that - as Beethoven once put it - comes from the heart and goes straight to the heart.
2006: The new Bacchus | 25 March 2020
Harnessing the electrifying energy of two symphonies by Scriabin and Beethoven, Omer Meir Wellber is joined by cellist Johannes Moser for Saariaho’s ravishing Notes on Light.
2007: Beethoven's Fifth | 28 March 2020
The four notes that were heard around the world: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5’s opening is immediately recognisable and precedes a non-stop race to glory. Edward Gardner conducts another illuminating 2020 Vision concert, accompanying Sally Matthews for Dutilleux’s meditation on transience and love.
2008: Landscape and memory | 1 April 2020
A symphony whose storms, bird-calls and hymns conceal eternal truths behind serenity - Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony brings to a close a concert opened by the perennial question of existence in Ives’s The Unanswered Question and an Adès’s adaption of the Book of Genesis in a piano concerto.
2009: The Everest of piano concertos | 8 April 2020
Commended for his interpretation of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Nikolai Lugansky performs alongside Wigglesworth’s 2009 modern classic and a fiery 1809 rediscovery - Méhul’s Symphony No. 1.
2010: Crossing cultures | 22 April 2020
A concert of genre-defying musical creativity; Anoushka Shankar returns to reprise her solo part in her father's Symphony, alongside Philip Glass’s balletic Double Concerto and self-descriptive Stomp by John Corigliano.
Look out for related events by the London Sinfonietta during 2020 Vision.