The Australian Haydn Ensemble (AHE) is set to captivate audiences with an extraordinary rendition of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Composed between 1804 and 1808, this symphony is one of Beethoven’s most celebrated works, instantly recognisable by its iconic opening. Often called the Fate Symphony, the powerful four-note motif symbolises fate knocking at the door, reflecting Beethoven’s battle with his growing deafness.

A historical revival

This upcoming program promises a fresh and unique experience as AHE presents the world premiere of William Watts’s chamber arrangement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, a version arranged around 1820. Unlike any large-scale symphonic recording you may have encountered, this arrangement for string quintet plus flute and double bass offers an intimate glimpse into Beethoven’s revolutionary musical ideas. Remarkably, this version has not been performed on period instruments since its creation and lacks any modern recordings, making this performance a true historical revival.

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In the early 19th century – before the advent of recordings or radio – chamber arrangements like Watts’s were immensely popular. They were essential for bringing the latest compositions to a wider audience through salon concerts and home performances, generating crucial income for composers and familiarising the public with new works. Today, these arrangements provide modern audiences with a direct connection to the heart of Beethoven’s creative process, showcasing the genius of his music in a more personal and immediate setting.

AHE’s commitment to exploring these historical arrangements has consistently garnered praise. Previous performances of Beethoven’s chamber arrangements have been met with acclaim, with critics lauding their ability to deliver powerful and nuanced interpretations. 

Spotlighting Ferdinand Ries

In addition to Beethoven’s Fifth, the concert will spotlight works by Ferdinand Ries, Beethoven’s trusted friend, student, and supporter. Ries, a brilliant composer and pianist, played a pivotal role in Beethoven’s life and musical journey. His Symphony No. 3, also arranged for a chamber ensemble, will be performed, offering audiences a rare opportunity to experience this thrilling and dramatic composition.

The program also includes Luigi Boccherini’s evocative Night Music of the Streets of Madrid a piece once unpublished at the composer’s request due to his belief that it was only relevant within Spain. Today, it stands as one of his most beloved works, vividly capturing the vibrant nightlife of Madrid with its compelling melodies and dynamic energy.

Exhilarating and intense, AHE’s Beethoven’s Fifth program promises to be an unforgettable experience. Whether you’ve heard Beethoven’s Fifth dozens of times or never before, this unique chamber arrangement will provide a new and profound appreciation for this timeless masterpiece. 

Dates and times

Sat 22 June 4pm
Bowral Memorial Hall, Bowral, Southern Highlands
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Sun 23 June 5pm
The Glasshouse, Port Macquarie
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Thurs 27 June 7pm
Wesley Music Centre, Forrest, Canberra, ACT
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Fri 28 June, 7pm
Berry Uniting Church Hall, Berry
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Sun 30 June 4pm
City Recital Hall, Sydney
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Sun 30 June 4pm
Australian Digital Concert Hall, Online
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