Last year I preceded it with works of Schoenberg —The Survivor from Warsaw and The Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte — and Luigi Nono's Julius Fucík. Fucík was an anti-fascist Czech journalist who was tortured and executed by the Nazis. Nono's piece — for two speaking voices and orchestra — is based on Notes from the Gallows, the diary Fucík wrote in prison and had smuggled out on pieces of toilet paper. The Beethoven symphony started attacca! [without a pause]. It was the most incredible impact. People were leaving the hall with tears in their eyes, hearing in Beethoven the echoes of these horrors.
Every epoch of music defines itself through its attitude toward Beethoven. The London Philharmonic performed Mahler's version of the Beethoven Third, really a re-orchestration — Mahler trying to "help" Beethoven. He's the pivotal point in the development from Baroque and Classical to a new Romantic approach. Today, we should be aware of interpretation styles of the 19th and 20th centuries. We should also define our own attitude toward Beethoven. We should approach Beethoven as if he were our contemporary. The Fifth Symphony has more to tell us than simply being a monument of its own time. This is a timeless piece that still works today. Beethoven and Luigi Nono. Exactly the place I wanted the players to be — attentive and emotionally involved. After the Nono, the orchestra will have been through this experience. Me too. Maybe part of this emotional involvement will spring through the Shostakovich and will set people in the right mood to hear Beethoven.
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