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BBC to dissect Beethoven’s life, work and body to celebrate 250th anniversary

By | Published on Monday 13 January 2020

BBC Radio 3

The BBC last week unveiled more details about its year-long season of programmes to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig Van Beethoven.

There will, of course, be plenty of live performances of the composer’s works, mainly on BBC Radio 3, but also telly channel BBC Four. However, the season will also include programmes exploring Beethoven’s life, as well as the work of some of his contemporaries, and newer works inspired by his music.

Among the TV programmes being planned is one with the working title ‘Being Beethoven’ which will, the broadcaster says, “seek to return Beethoven to the context of his own time and place … reimagining how he might have experienced day-to-day life”.

Over on BBC Radio 3 there will be a new drama called ‘Beethoven Can Hear You’ that will, according to the official blurb, “endeavour to give audiences the chance to follow Beethoven’s journey of hearing loss”.

A programme called ‘Unseen Vienna’ will “shine a light on Beethoven’s female contemporaries who have since been largely overlooked by history”, while ‘Dissecting Beethoven’ will “seek to learn more about the composer from the results of the autopsy carried out after his death”. So that’s fun.

Announcing all this, the BBC’s classical music chief Alan Davey says: “This unique celebration will offer audiences an opportunity to explore the achievements of Beethoven afresh and understand his continued relevance today. From the latest research into his life to concerts of excellence, there’s something for everyone”.

Meanwhile BBC Music TV’s Head Of Commissioning Jan Younghusband adds: “I am certain that many of us can relate to the struggles Beethoven faced in his personal life – from tumultuous relationships to his eventual loss of hearing affecting him profoundly both personally and professionally”.

“With this in mind”, she goes on, “we have taken his anniversary as an opportunity to delve a little more deeply into the man behind the music, with our three-part series ‘Being Beethoven’ on BBC Four delving into his life story, giving us further insight into his character and experiences that informed his ground-breaking musical compositions and the influence he has on the future of classical music”.