Barenboim on Beethoven 1: Genius and Destiny

A film by Christopher Nupen

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Daniel Barenboim — Presenter

New Philharmonia Orchestra

Daniel Barenboim — Conductor, pianist

Program notes

For the great Daniel Barenboim, Beethoven is an optimist—a man deeply attuned to the world’s problems who fights for “the triumph of the spirit over matter, over our problems,” even in the face of great sorrow. Drawing on excerpts from piano sonatas, concertos, and symphonies by Beethoven—and comparing them with superficially similar works by Mozart—Barenboim discusses what sets Beethoven apart from all others, what makes him a genius unto himself. “Nobody before him,” says Barenboim, “had written music like this”—and few have since, which is why everyone still knows his name 250 years after his birth.

This is the first in a series of films by Christopher Nupen, made in 1970 for the 200th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Featuring never-before-seen footage, Nupen lets us benefit from the invaluable insights and dynamic performances of the young, wise-beyond-his-years Barenboim—already an expert in Beethoven’s timeless music that remains as relevant today as ever.

A closer look: featured composers

Further listening: featured works

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