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The Beethoven Experience

We began in Staunton at the American Shakespeare Center, switched to online in the summer, and now our big Beethoven series comes to a stunning finish with the Beethoven Experience Marathon with the Borromeo Quartet. To mark the actual 250th anniversary birthdate of Ludwig van Beethoven on Wednesday, December 16th, we’ve lined up a day-long celebration, performance, and discussion of the complete cycle of the German master’s string quartets by the Borromeo Quartet, the Heifetz Institute’s Ensemble in Residence, acclaimed by the Boston Globe for their “edge of the seat performances.”

In lieu of presenting the eleventh and final installment on December 14 as initially planned, we will instead be presenting all of the Beethoven programs starting at 8am (EST) on Wednesday December 16. The festivities will conclude with a final Q&A with the Borromeos themselves examining the totality of Beethoven’s sixteen quartets and their enduring mystery and appeal.

You can view the entire series here in the video player below, or via our YouTube Channel, Facebook page, or the Violin Channel!

Watch the entire series here on Dec. 16 starting at 8:00am (EST)

About the Performances

Each presentation is designed to be both a concert and educational experience. The insights and research shared by Artistic Director Nicholas Kitchen, as well as the truly breathtaking interpretations by the Borromeo Quartet, both expand our understanding of and appreciation for these landmark works themselves, as well as the cultural, political, and religious contexts in which they were composed.

“One of those remarkable breakthroughs in music that come only once every few decades.”
– Jeremy Yudkin, Co-director of the Center for Beethoven Research, on Nicholas Kitchen’s study of the composer’s original manuscripts

The Beethoven Experience with the Borromeo Quartet

Presented in conjunction with:

mary baldwin university
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Program I: Bor-Romeo – Beethoven & Shakespeare Beyond The Tomb, Pt. 1

Connecting Beethoven, the Bad Boy of Bonn, to the Bard of Avon

String Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 18 No. 1

String Quartet No. 7 in F major, Op. 59 No. 1

Program II: Bor-Romeo – Beethoven & Shakespeare, Pt. 2

“Falstaff, Show Yourself!” Shakespeare’s comic figure comes to musical life

String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat major, Op. 127

Program III: Speaking to God, Pt. 1 

Beethoven’s Spirituality, Explored & Expressed

String Quartet No. 2 in G major, Op. 18 No. 2

String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, Op. 59, No. 2 “Razumovsky”

Program IV:  Speaking to God, Pt. 2

A Sacred Song of Thanks

String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132

Program V: B.A.C.H.D.N.A 

Beethoven’s tribute to “The immortal God of Harmony”

String Quartet No. 3 in D major, Op. 18, No. 3

String Quartet No. 9 in C major, Op. 59, No. 3

Program VI: Transcendence without Precedence: Beethoven & Bach, Pt. 2

Seven movements of sublimity, spurred by a solemn Bach fugue

Bach, arr. N. Kitchen: Fugue in C-sharp minor, BWV 848

String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131

Program VII: Tension…and Release

Fire and Grace – the two sides of Beethoven’s style, inherited and created

String Quartet No. 4 in C minor, Op. 18, No. 4

String Quartet No. 10 in E-flat major, Op. 74 “Harp”

Program VIII: The Flexing Muscle

Strict techniques and surprising elasticity revealed in one formidable fugue

String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major, Op. 130 (with the Grosse Fuge ending)

Program IX: A Nod to Mozart & A Wild New Path

Beethoven acknowledges a master, and then blazes a brand-new trail

String Quartet No. 5 in A major, Op. 18 No. 5

String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 95 “Serioso”

Program X:  Beethoven’s Punny Money

The humor, profundity, and pfennings of Beethoven’s life and music

String Quartet No. 6 in B-flat major, Op. 18, No. 6

String Quartet No. 16 in F major, Op. 135

Program XI: Two Endings, One Enduring Enigma

The Borromeos examine the totality of all sixteen quartets, and delve into the enduring mystery of the last movement he composed for string quartet

String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major, Op. 130 (revised ending)
Encore: Grosse Fuge in B-flat Major, Op. 133

Questions from the Journey:
A Final Celebration and Discussion with The Borromeo Quartet

Join us to raise a glass and celebrate the conclusion of this remarkable set of performances by the Borromeos, and bring your questions to ask Nick Kitchen, Kristopher Tong, Mai Motobuchi, and Yeesun Kim.