Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Donald Macleod explores Beethoven's early vocal music, including Adelaide and Christ on the Mount of Olives, with conductor Simone Young and pianist and writer Iain Burnside.

Donald Macleod explores Beethoven's early vocal music, including Adelaide and his only oratorio, Christ on the Mount of Olives, with conductor Simone Young and pianist and writer Iain Burnside.

Beethoven was born into a family of singers. His grandfather Ludwig and his father Johann were both remarked on for their voices. Judging by contemporary accounts it seems that Beethoven himself wasn't similarly gifted. The librettist and lepidopterist Georg Friedrich Treitschke claimed that Beethoven would growl when he was composing; Beethoven's biographer Anton Schindler said that he howled, and Beethoven's pupil Ferdinand Ries was of the view that his teacher did both. If those reports are true, then Beethoven's inability to produce a harmonious sound himself certainly didn't act as a deterrent to his compositional focus. A quick tally shows that somewhere in the region of half of his six hundred plus works were written for voice, mining subjects like love, persecution, loneliness, freedom, brotherhood and sacrifice, themes that Beethoven held very close to his heart.

Across the week Donald Macleod and his guests will be discussing some personal favourites from Beethoven's vocal music, taking in the giants of choral repertory like Missa Solemnis and the ninth symphony, his opera Fidelio and orchestral vocal music, as well as relishing the astonishing variety of his songwriting, from the song cycle An die Ferne Geliebte and the most profoundly moving vocal masterpieces, to a comic song most likely dashed off to amuse friends in a bar.

Today they consider whether Beethoven found writing for the voice more difficult than writing instrumental music.

Christus am Ölberge (excerpt)
Final chorus
Chorus and National Orchestra of Lyon
Serge Baudo, director

Ein Selbstgespräch
John Mark Ainsley, tenor
Iain Burnside, piano

Adelaide
John Mark Ainsley, tenor
Iain Burnside, piano

Funeral Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II (excerpt)
Tot! Tot, stöhnt es durch die öde nacht
Chorus and Orchestra of Deutsche Oper, Berlin
Christian Thielemann, conductor

Christus am Olberge (excerpt)
James Anderson, tenor, Jesus
Monica Pick-Hieronimi, soprano, Seraph
Chorus & Orchestre National de Lyon
Serge Baudo, director

Aus Goethes Faust
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, baritone
Jörg Demus, piano

Produced by Johannah Smith

59 minutes

Last on

Mon 4 May 2020 12:00

Music Played

  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Welten Singen Dank und Ehre from Christus am Ölberge, Op 85

    Orchestra: Orchestre de l’Opéra de Lyon. Choir: Choeur de l'Opéra de Lyon. Conductor: Serge Baudo.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI : HM-905181.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
    • 7.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Ein Selbstgesprach, WoO 114, for voice and piano

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: John Mark Ainsley.
    • SIGNUM : SIGCD-145.
    • SIGNUM.
    • 8.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Adelaide, Op 46 for voice and piano

    Performer: Iain Burnside. Singer: John Mark Ainsley.
    • SIGNUM : SIGCD-145.
    • SIGNUM.
    • 9.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Funeral Cantata On The Death Of The Emperor Joseph II, WoO 87 (1st mvt)

    Orchestra: Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin. Choir: Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin. Conductor: Christian Thielemann.
    • DG: 4537982.
    • DG.
    • 1.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Christus Am Olberge (The Mount Of Olives) Op 85

    Singer: James Anderson. Singer: Monica Pick-Hieronimi. Orchestra: Orchestre National de Lyon. Choir: Lyon National Chorus. Conductor: Serge Baudo.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI : HM-905181.
    • HARMONIA MUNDI.
    • 2.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Aus Goethes Faust, Op 75, No 3

    Performer: Jörg Demus. Singer: Dietrich Fischer‐Dieskau.
    • Deutsche grammophon:4537822.
    • Deutsche grammophon:.
    • 11.

Broadcast

  • Mon 4 May 2020 12:00

Beethoven Unleashed – the box set

Beethoven Unleashed – the box set

The complete set of Radio 3 Beethoven Unleashed podcasts, with Donald Macleod.

What was really wrong with Beethoven?

What was really wrong with Beethoven?

Georgia Mann and neurosurgeon Henry Marsh examine the composer's numerous health problems

Composers A to Z

Composers A to Z

Visit the extensive audio archive of Radio 3 programmes about Composers and their works.

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

Who knew? Five eye-opening stories from Composer of the Week

The production team reflects on 5 of Donald Macleod’s best stories from the last 20 years

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

A man out of time – why Parry's music and ideas were at odds with his image...

The composer of Jerusalem was very far from the conservative figure his image suggests.

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

Five reasons why we love Parry's Jerusalem

What is the strange power of Jerusalem which makes strong men weep?

Composer Help Page

Composer Help Page

Find resources and contacts for composers from within the classical music industry.