Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi is to play the German classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven in a new Radio 3 drama to mark the composer’s 250th birthday. The new drama will be accompanied by a major new series on BBC Four charting the composer’s life.
These two productions are part of a slate of arts programmes extending the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine project. Culture in Quarantine was launched to support the arts during Lockdown and the extension will include a range of musical performances and hundreds of hours of archive classical music content released online. It will also include broadcasting the first performances from The Royal Opera House since lockdown, as well as from other top opera houses that have had to cancel performances during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Above: “Portrait de Ludwig van Beethoven” (Ludovic Alleaume, 1859-1941).
Ludwig Beethoven (16/17 December 1770 – 26th March 1827) is one of the towering figures of classical music, was very intense, and loved an arm wrestle. He is famous for his concertos, piano sonatas, and his nine symphonies – notably No. 3, the Eroica, No. 6, the Pastorale, and his 9th – from which the European Union took Ode to Joy as its anthem. The opening of his hugely influential 5th symphony is recognised the world over and was selected to appear on the ‘golden record’ that was attached to the Voyager 1 space probe in 1977. Naturally, the Doctor and Beethoven have met. The Tenth Doctor claimed, in Series 3’s The Lazarus Experiment, that Beethoven taught him to play the organ.
A performance of Beethoven’s opera Fidelio, filmed at the Royal Opera House before it closed its doors, will also be broadcast as part of Culture in Quarantine.