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Annual Beethoven festival under way in Warsaw

29.03.2023 16:00
An annual festival celebrating the music of Ludwig van Beethoven is being held in Warsaw under the theme "Beethoven Between the East and West."
Photo: PAP/Mateusz Marek

A special concert during the 27th Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival commemorated the third anniversary of the death of Krzysztof Penderecki, a prominent Polish contemporary composer.

The Apollon Musagète Quartet, which some say is one of the most charismatic and creative ensembles on the international music scene, delivered a spectacular chamber concert honouring Penderecki, who died on March 29, 2020 at the age of 86.

Penderecki's works have been performed by choirs and orchestras at the most prestigious venues around the world.

His talent was brought to international attention in 1961, when his composition Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima won the UNESCO International Tribune of Composers Award in Paris.

Penderecki’s best known works include Symphony No. 3, St. Luke Passion, Polish Requiem, Anaklasis and Utrenja.

Krzysztof Penderecki w domu w Lusławicach Krzysztof Penderecki (1933-2020). Photo: PAP/Maciej Kłoś

The Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival takes place annually in the run-up to Easter.

It was first held in 1997 in Kraków, southern Poland, to commemorate the 170th anniversary of Beethoven’s death.

In 2004, the festival moved to Warsaw, where the 27th edition of the event opened last Sunday.

The motto of this year's festival is "Beethoven Between the East and West."

Elżbieta Penderecka, the wife of the late Krzysztof Penderecki and the founder of the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival, said "the theme of this year's event is not a coincidence."

She added: "This unique Beethoven family of ours is growing with each year. We have several anniversaries to celebrate at the festival, like the 110th birth anniversary of the great Polish composer Witold Lutosławski. Also, we want to honour Ukrainian composers.”

While Beethoven is the event’s key focus, the festival also highlights the work of Penderecki and other composers, such as Mozart, Chopin, Wieniawski, Mahler, Ravel, Gershwin, Britten, Silvestrov and Hosokawa.

This year festival audiences will have a chance to hear 10 symphonic concerts and five chamber concerts performed by renowned Polish orchestras including the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra and the Sinfonia Varsovia.

The festival features a plethora of internationally renowned musicians, such as Spain's Martin Garcia Garcia, third prize winner at the 2021 International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, and Japan's Hina Maeda, the winner of last year's 16th International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poznań, western Poland.

The 27th Beethoven Easter Festival includes the Unknown Operas series, a special section launched in 2008. This year conductor Łukasz Borowicz plans to treat audiences to two spectacular but little known works: Erik Satie's Socrate and Bohuslav Martinů's Alexander Twice.

The 27th Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival runs until April 7, with major concerts broadcast live by Polish Radio 2.


Click on the audio player above to listen to a report by Radio Poland's Agnieszka Bielawska.