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First Night of the BBC Proms 2020

Petroc Trelawny and Georgia Mann introduce the First Night of the 2020 BBC Prom season, launching six weeks of unforgettable highlights from the Proms archives.

Tonight sees the launch of six weeks of highlights from the past three decades of the Proms, featuring memorable performances from an array of the world’s greatest soloists, orchestras and conductors.

Marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, we open with a mash-up of Beethoven’s nine symphonies – a First Night commission by Iain Farrington recorded in lockdown by a Grand Virtual Orchestra formed of around 320 players from across the BBC Performing Groups. The Beethoven celebrations continue with the dramatic Piano Concerto No. 3 performed at the 2017 First Night by Igor Levit, who has more recently reached a new audience through his live Twitter concerts streamed direct from his Berlin apartment during the coronavirus lockdown.
Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s riotous, hard-hitting Panic – for saxophone, drums and orchestra – won instant notoriety following its premiere at the Last Night of the 100th-anniversary Proms season in 1995.
Tonight’s selection concludes with Claudio Abbado’s final Proms appearance, in 2007, conducting the 127 players of his Lucerne Festival Orchestra in a rapturous performance of Mahler’s epic hymn to nature, his Third Symphony.

Ian Farrington: Beethoveniana (BBC commission: world premiere)
Grand Virtual Orchestra (BBC Performing Groups)

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor
Igor Levit, piano
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Edward Gardner, conductor
(From the First Night of the BBC Proms 2017, 14 July)

Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Panic
John Harle, saxophone
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Sir Andrew Davis, conductor
(From the Last Night of the BBC Proms 1995, 16 September)

Mahler: Symphony no 3
Anna Larsson, mezzo-soprano
Trinity Boys Choir
London Symphony Chorus
Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Claudio Abbado, conductor
(From BBC Proms 2007, 22 August)

2 hours, 59 minutes

Music Played

  • Iain Farrington


    Performer: The BBC Orchestras and BBC Singers.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Piano Concerto no 3 in C minor Op 37

    Performer: Igor Levit. Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Edward Gardner.
  • Harrison Birtwistle


    Performer: Paul Clarvis. Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Symphony no 3 in D minor

    Orchestra: Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Singer: Anna Larsson. Choir: Trinity Boys Choir. Conductor: Claudio Abbado.


  • Fri 17 Jul 2020 19:00

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