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Beethoven Orchestra Bonn

Dirk Kaftan

Cameron Carpenter

Beethoven X

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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The Beethoven Orchestra Bonn is the driving force in Bonns musical life with more than 70 concerts per year and participation in 100 opera performances. The history of the Beethoven Orchester Bonn goes back to the year of 1907, when Beethoven’s birth place received its own orchestra once again, after the former court orchestra had been closed back in 1794. Prominent conductors such as Richard Strauss, Max Reger, Volker Wangenheim, Dennis
Russell Davies, and Kurt Masur have established the orchestra as one of the most renowned sym-phonic ensembles of its kind in Germany.


Since the beginning of the 2017/18 season, the orchestra has begun a new chapter as conductor Dirk Kaftan has assumed the post of the general music director. Along with the musicians, he intends to discover soundscapes on the highest artistic level – whether the music is 300 years old, was composed in Beethoven’s era or is contemporary music, regardless if the music originates from cultures which require traveling around the globe or wandering through unexplored territory. The primary objective is to fasten the orchestra in the hearts and the souls of the people of Bonn and far beyond the boundaries of the city and the region.

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