Unknown Beethoven symphony discovered!

I heard a new — to me — piece of music the other evening, It was on ClassicFM‘s rather lovely ‘The Full Works‘, the late evening show which plays whole pieces, rather than the shorter snippets featured during the day. The piece was clearly (to my admittedly untutored ears) Beethoven, and symphonic, but, familiar as I am with Beethoven’s symphonies, I’d never heard it before, and couldn’t place it. The use of horns was typically Beethovian, the woodwind was very Beethovian, the strings were quite Beethovian, and the structure of the piece itself was absolutely Beethovian. No doubt about it, it was a Beethovian piece. But what was it?

As soon as I could, I pulled the car over and parked at the side of the road, whipped out my trusty Nokia N95, and used ClassicFM’s useful, if appallingly inaccessible and not really mobile- friendly, on-line playlist to check what it was. And it wasn’t Beethoven at all. To my surprise, it was Georges Bizet‘s Symphony In C Major. Remarkably, it was written as a student exercise in 1855, when he was just 16, and lay forgotten and unperformed until it was rediscovered in 1935. You’d never tell, if you heard this impressive work.

Well worth seeking out, I reckon. Especially if you like Beethoven.

One thought on “Unknown Beethoven symphony discovered!

  1. Christophe Strobbe

    This story reminds me of an April Fools’ Day joke on BBC Radio many years ago: they said a score of Beethoven’s 11th (!) symphony had been discovered and they broadcast a recording allegedly by the Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi. I had never seen or heard a Beethoven recording by Neeme Järvi, so the announcement was very suspicious. What they broadcast then immediately reminded me of Camille Saint-Saëns’ third symphony, also known as the Organ Symphony. I later checked whether Neeme Järvi had made any Beethover recordings (he hadn’t), and borrowed a recording Camille Saint-Saëns’ third symphony, and my suspicions were confirmed.


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