Ever since Ludwig van Beethoven died in 1827, the notation of his 10th Symphony, which was only written in handwritten sketches in the year of his death, has been nicknamed “the Unfinished”. What would the 10th have sounded like?
One year after the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, an attempt has been made with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) to transfer the composition fragments into a fully formulated work.
The 10th Symphony, as heard on this recording by the Bonn Beethoven Orchestra under the baton of its conductor Dirk Kaftan, is a dialogue-based collaboration between man and machine, in which the AI’s artificial neuronal networks were challenged to be creative in their own right, but the human being continued to be responsible for the final score.
The 10th Symphony in its formulation by an AI accompanied by humans and with Cameron Carpenter at the organ thus possesses a moment of surprise that one might have expected from Beethoven, and at the same time it stands for an idea of the future, for a potential for renewal of a then contemporary and new music.
AI methods together with a team of music historians and composers were used the first time to complete the “Unfinished” from Beethoven’s available musical sketches.
This recording is thus a snapshot that reflects the state of cooperation between man and machine today, without the claim to have completed a “real” 10th Symphony, as it would have flowed analogously from Beethoven’s scratchy pen. And it was nevertheless written in the spirit of Beethoven, who knew no artistic limits, and here demanded one thing above all: “Go on!”
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