From May 10 to May 19, 2018, everyone in Cleveland will have the chance to do something few people in the world will ever have a chance to do.
This extraordinary musical event will happen here in Cleveland, then the Cleveland Orchestra will perform all of Beethoven’s symphonies in Vienna, then Tokyo.
The Symphonies of Beethoven
Ludwig von Beethoven wrote 9 symphonies, all while living in Vienna. Together they represent one of the towering achievements of the human mind, of our spirit, our soul, and our hearts.
Every human culture that has ever existed has developed music. Every one of us who ever lived has had a powerful experience with music. Scientists struggle to define just what it is about music that has made it the center of the very heart of being alive, of being a person, but it is. The evidence is clear that we humans sang and played instruments before we learned to talk, and eons before anything was ever written. Music is our language more than language.
Over millenia of humanity creating music, trying this form out then trying that form, millions of pieces of music have come and gone. The only pieces that remain over time are the ones that contain powers of emotion and thought that grab our minds and hearts.
In the history of music and humanity, from Asia to Europe to Africa to South America to North America, the symphonies of Beethoven stand out as some of the very most beautiful, touching, powerful, soul-stirring.
Name a country in the world, and you will name a place these symphonies have hit home. Venezuela prides itself on its programs of El Sistema, that bring classical music to the poor of this country and inspire youth to grab hold, and offer great opportunities for opening the world to them, an approach very much alive in the US as well.
Beethoven and his symphonies are top drawers of audiences in China, India, and Japan, where many of the world’s top musicians now hail from.
Humanity may be split into thousands of languages but the language of music appears to transcend what we say, and the symphonies of music speak of our experience and lives as people as fully as any expression.
The nine symphonies culminate in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, considered by millions around the world as one of the crowning achievements of all art of all time. Take a moment to enjoy this clip of a flash mob in Barcelona that featured just one clip from this Symphony.
Take a look at the faces of old and young in the crowd, running to hear this most amazing music.
Our family has been more than lucky to hear the 9th Symphony of Beethoven live several times, every single time it has moved us to heights rarely experienced, and you can see all in the audience are just as moved too.
If you have never heard Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, come to Severance Hall, it’s on each of May 17, 18, and 19.
Cleveland and Our Orchestra
No other city on the planet has an orchestra as magnificent as The Cleveland Orchestra. According to the Times, no other city of any size in America does.
The Orchestra has refined itself as an extraordinary ensemble over the last 100 years. This set of concerts in fact celebrates its 100th birthday.
Cleveland has long taken pride in supporting an Orchestra of truly world-class quality, and has only done so because we actually do give more support to our Orchestra than any other city in the country, and the world.
So it’s a great Orchestra, because all of us have decided our city should have a great Orchestra, and many of the world’s top musicians flock here to vie for a spot to play in this astounding ensemble.
Add to that one of the great music halls in the world, and we have the very, very rare chance in our town, to drive a few minutes to hear some of the most beautiful and moving music heard anywhere.
So how fitting, and amazing, that this series, a true World Series of music, will be heard around the world, but begin in Cleveland.
It is exciting that the same program will be performed by our friends in the Orchestra, our fellow Clevelanders, in the city where they were written, in halls Beethoven conducted this music! And Vienna will be wildly enthusiastic about being able to hear their beloved composers symphonies, all of them, in one week, by such a truly great Orchestra.
Then the phenome moves to Tokyo, where our Orchestra has appeared now for about 60 years. Demonstrating the global reach of the power of this music.
Audiences in Vienna and Tokyo are already clamoring to be sitting in the halls these concerts will be performed.
But we get to hear it all right here at home. Which is why I am sending out this invitation to everyone used to reading about medical items in these postings.
Music is good for the soul, it is also clearly very good for your health, but something very big is happening in Cleveland, and I couldn’t let it pass without letting you know about it.
The symphonies of Beethoven, along with his overtures, are almost never played together within a week or two. They are some of the most astounding works of art ever created. This truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity, very different than being able to view a great painting which will be there tomorrow and every day, this music, once the baton stops vanishes into the air.
So if you can, hear all 5 concerts (https://www.clevelandorchestra.com/tickets/event-calendar/). That’s right, just 5 concerts, and you will hear and experience greatness. You will join audiences across the world at the home base of you and your Orchestra. If you can’t make all 5, no worries, choose at least one. If one can be Beethoven’s Ninth, you will never forget it.
My wife and I will be at all 5, we hope to see you there, and if you do come, I hope you will be inspired, moved, provoked, and left in some ways better.
To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin