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By Bella Kontogianni
Beethoven Day was marked with enchanting performances of all nine of his symphonies hosted across Europe, including a magical show at the Theater of Delphi in Greece on Sunday.
The “musicAeterna” orchestra of Megaron Mousikis Athens Concert Hall, led by beloved Greek-Russian conductor Teodor Currentzis, played a beautiful version of Beethoven’s Symphony no. seven in A Major against the stunning backdrop of Delphi.
Celebrating Beethoven Day at Delphi
Beethoven Day performances were streamed live on Sunday for a beautiful nine hour showcase of music.
The show at Delphi also included a dance portion, with a dance choreographed specifically for the event by world-renowned choreographer Sasha Waltz. The concert was accompanied by 12 dancers who perfectly captured the emotionality of the music at the show.
The performance of his Symphony Number Seven was bookended by other stunning orchestra presentations across historically significant spaces in Europe. These took place in Bonn, Germany; Dublin, Ireland; Helsikni, Finland; Luxembourg, Luxembourg; Prague, Czech Republic; Lugano, Switzerland; Strasbourg, France; and Vienna, Austria.
However, the Greek celebration of Beethoven Day at Delphi is particularly notable as it was the most watched, across multiple streaming services, of the entire nine-hour showcase.
MusicAeterna’s performance honoring Beethoven Day at Delphi was also streamed on two massive screens in the Athens Concert Hall and was attended by 900 people free of charge. Simultaneously, it was also shown in square of Agios Georgios church in Delphi to a rapt audience of 200.
Sunday’s showcase “the beginning of cultural life in Europe”
This one of a kind pan-European music event was produced by the Franco-German television station ARTE in collaboration with ZDF (German State Television) and Unitel, a leading international distributor of classical music television productions.
“The Beethoven Music Marathon marks the beginning of cultural life in Europe,” Wolfgang Bergman, CEO of Arte Germany, said in an international online press conference last week.
He continued by highlighting that “thousands of people have been involved in order to carry it out. And it will be a celebration where the past, the present, the future, nature and monuments, freedom, communication and openness coexist.
“Everything we need in Europe and everywhere in the world,” concluded Bergman.
A video released in anticipation of the showcase can be found below.
Beethoven Day conductor Teodor Currentzis
The conductor chosen to lead the musicAeterna orchestra on Beethoven Day at Delphi is well-known for much more than just his stunning work on Sunday.
Currentzis has been dubbed the “rebel of classical music,” “the bad boy of classical music, and even a “hellraiser.” These are all descriptions that are perhaps more fitting for a rock star than a man who conducts Mozart and Beethoven.
In his case, in addition to “genius” and “enfant terrible”, descriptions such as “narcissist” and “anarchist” sound more like compliments.
At the age of 49, the Greek wonder who has made St. Petersburg, Russia his home, is a sought-after conductor and composer. He has a rich discography, his concerts across the globe are sold out days in advance, and he is one of President Vladimir Putin’s favorites.
Currentzis clearly seems bent on revolutionizing classical music. He takes it out of its old, conservative environment and adds flair and aplomb to make it attractive to a wider audience, perhaps for younger generations who may think of it as the music of their grandparents.
Born in Athens on February 24, 1972, Currentzis took up the piano at the age of four and began learning the violin at seven. He entered the National Conservatory in Athens at the age of twelve, concentrating on the violin. In 1987, at age 15, he began composition studies under Professor George Hadjinikos, and then in 1989 under Professor B. Shreck.
In 1994, Currentzis moved to St. Petersburg, where he studied conducting at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory under the guidance of Ilya Musin until 1999.
Currentzis served as principal conductor of the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre in 1999, and he founded the Russian period-instrument orchestra Orchestra MusicAeterna and the Chorus MusicAeterna in the same year.
Since February 2011, Currentzis has been the music director and artistic director of the Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre of Russia.
Delphi, the spiritual center of Ancient Greece
The choice to host one of the Beethoven Day performances at Delphi is a no-brainer due to its magical history. Once the spiritual center of the Greek world, Delphi boasts beautifully preserved archaeological sites perfect for a project being viewed by the entirety of Europe.
The structures at the Archaeological site of Delphi date back to the fourth century BC and include the well-known Temple of Apollo, where the Oracle of Delphi, the Pythia, spoke.
Visiting the “navel of the world” in the sacred slopes of Delphi you can also explore the ancient theater, where the concert was held, as well as the stadium, the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, the Castalian Spring, and other various ancient treasures.