Daniel Barenboim conducts Beethoven and Schoenberg

West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

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Program notes

Two masterpieces separated by a century of time and a radical shift in Western art music share this 2007 program of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and its legendary musical director Daniel Barenboim. Experience Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3 and Schoenberg’s Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31 like you’ve rarely heard them in a concert filmed live on the stage of the Salzburg Festival!

The deceivingly numbered Leonore Overture No. 3 was Beethoven’s second attempt at an overture for his one and only opera Fidelio. Composed for the 1806 production, the grand work captures the entire dramatic arc of the opera and proved to have better longevity in concert halls than in opera theaters because of its vivid and expansive musical-storytelling and symphonic scope. Schoenberg’s Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31 were written from 1926 to 1928 and would be the first work in which the composer applied his new rules of serialism, developed during the preceding decade—a period in which he painted more than composed!—before he made the leap into a new chapter in Western art music. After introducing the opening theme, Schoenberg develops it over the course of nine variations and a finale, with nods to Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms along the way. 

A closer look: featured composers

Further listening: featured works

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