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Beethoven Unleashed – the box set

Throughout 2020, Radio 3's Composer of the Week celebrated the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth in a ground-breaking 25-week series of programmes presented by Donald Macleod, with the assistance of eminent Beethoven scholars and performers.

From historian Simon Schama to conductors Marin Alsop and John Eliot Gardiner, and pianists Jonathan Biss and Angela Hewitt, Donald was joined by guests who offered remarkable insights into the mercurial human being and cultural phenomenon that was Ludwig van Beethoven.

Now you can listen to all of the podcast versions of the programmes, collected here.

Donald Macleod with Beethoven's walking stick
Inspecting Beethoven's ear trumpets at the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, with Dr Erica Buurman.
  • Theme 1 Why Beethoven? With Simon Schama and Marin Alsop
  • Theme 2 With guests Raphael Wallfisch and Sara Bitlloch
  • Theme 3 At the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn with Dr Erica Buurman
  • Theme 4 Keyboard, with Jonathan Biss
  • Theme 5 Beethoven and the voice, with Simone Young and Iain Burnside
  • Theme 6 The late quartets, with Ed Dusinberre and Laura Tunbridge
  • Theme 7 Private Papers with biographer Jan Swafford and Erica Buurman
  • Theme 8 In His Own Words, with actor Adrian Lester as the voice of Beethoven
  • Theme 9 How to Play Beethoven, with musicians Chi-Chi Nwanoku, Ronald Brautigam, Rachel Nicholls, Adrian Bending, and Sarah Willis
  • Theme 10 Spirit of the Age with Professor Nicholas Matthews, Ruth Padel, Julian Allwood, Professor Herwig Czech, Dr Aakanksha Virkar Yates
  • Theme 11 Angela Hewitt on the late sonatas
  • Theme 12 Sir John Eliot Gardiner on the symphonies
  • Theme 13 – Highlights (available from 18 December)
Beethoven out walking in Heiligenstadt. Artwork © Getty Images
  • Biography 1 Beethoven’s childhood – clues that point to the great man he would become.
  • Biography 2 Following Beethoven as he sets himself up in his new home of Vienna.
  • Biography 3 Beethoven seeks out wealthy Viennese patrons for his music.
  • Biography 4 As he reaches his 30th birthday, we see Beethoven finally emerging as a mature composer.
  • Biography 5 Beethoven’s story through the momentous years of 1802 and 1803.
  • Biography 6 The triumphs, friends and foes of Beethoven’s "heroic" phase.
  • Biography 7 Beethoven’s life through the traumatic years 1807 to 1809.
  • Biography 8 Financial worries and the emotional crisis of "Immortal Beloved".
  • Biography 9 Napoleon is overthrown. Beethoven's music at last begins to receive public recognition.
  • Biography 10 Distracting court battles over custody of Beethoven's nephew Karl.
  • Biography 11 1822 to 1824 – the period of Beethoven's greatest late masterpieces.
  • Biography 12 Failing health, a traumatic family crisis and a series of extraordinary late string quartets.

Beethoven unlimited...