Online Beethoven 250 Festival

This week marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday- so to celebrate we’ve got our online Beethoven Fest back for you to enjoy!

2020 was the world’s year to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of an icon.  Beethoven celebrations were to play a big part of the end of the season for the SSO.  Since we can’t do our 8 day Beethoven Festival with you in person, we’re taking it online!

Eric Paetkau hosts discussions about three of Beethoven’s most important symphonies.  He’s joined in these discussions by three of next season’s guest conductors, Janna Sailor, Judith Yan, and Martin MacDonald.

On top of exploring the music in the symphonies, each party will pick their favourite recording of the work and square off on which recording wins the day!

Eric Paetkau with Martin MacDonald – Symphony 5 – Watch the Video
Their favourites include:
Roger Norrington with the London Classical Players,
David Zinman with the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich,
John Eliot Gardiner with the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique.
Carlos Kleiber with the Vienna Phil
Listen to Their Playlist

Eric Paetkau with Janna Sailor – Symphony 7 – Watch the Video
Their favourites include:
Leonard Bernstein conducting the Boston Symphony in his final performance ever
Arturo Toscanini and the New York Philharmonic
Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Simon Bolivar Orchestra
Nicolas Harnoncourt leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Listen to Their Playlist

Eric Paetkau with Judith Yan – Symphony 9 – Watch the Video

Wilhelm Furtwangler conducting the Berlin Philharmonic live in 1942
Nicolaus Harnoncourt with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Roger Norrington with the London Classical Players
Riccardo Chailly with the Gewandhaus Leipzig Orchestra
Listen to Their Playlist

These video chats will be posted on the SSO’s YouTube channel and posted on our social media feeds.

The SSO’s Mark Turner turns to Beethoven’s piano sonatas and concertos for a musical journey. Hear the stories and inspirations behind some of the greatest piano music ever written, exploring Beethoven’s musical and situational influences.

Dig in to the differences between approaches from some of the great Beethoven pianists.  After each episode of Classical Now we’ll post the playlist for you to listen at your leisure, letting you hone your tastes and grow your musical library.

Tune in to Classical Now on CFCR 90.5FM or every Monday night at 7pm, throughout the month of May, and June 1st.

This exploration of Beethoven’s piano sonatas with recordings by Artur Schnabel, Emil Gilels, Svatislav Richter, Glenn Gould, Walter Gieseking and more. 

The recordings of the Beethoven concerti for this series features Jan Lisiecki and Academy of St Martin in the Fields.

The audio of these radio shows will be made available.

The SSO’s InTune blog has a wealth of information for anyone wanting to journey into classical music with more detail – and for our online Beethoven 250 Fest we wanted to put together some of the best blogs we’ve had about the composer’s music!

Explore Beethoven’s Cello Sonatas

Learn about Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony  and Even More about Beethoven 6

Beethoven’s rarely played Serenade

Beethoven’s stunning Septet

Eroica – the 3rd Symphony

Beethoven’s reference to Romeo and Juliet

His Triple Threat – the Triple Concerto

More than a Funeral March – 7th Symphony

An Ode to Joy – the 9th

Breaking Down Symphony 9

Maybe you’re curious about what Beethoven you should listen to, or maybe you just want to soak in some great music, we’re bringing you a special feature throughout the month of May.

In addition to our Maestro Eric Paetkau going Head-to-Head over favourite Beethoven symphonic recordings with some of our planned guest conductors of the upcoming season, we have pulled together some of our favourite Beethoven to share with you!

As a part of our Online Beethoven Festival, we hope this brings you closer to not only the timeless art of Beethoven’s music, but also to your SSO community. Take note that Beethoven’s Third Symphony was chosen more than once…but a different recording each time!

Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 5

with Emanuel Ax, and André Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra

Natal Laycock – Director of Administration

“The music tells such an interesting story over the 3 movements, and I think Manny captures the story so well.”

Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55, “Erioca”

with Alondra de la Parra and Tonhalle Orchester Zürich

Richard Carnegie – Principal Bass

“There are so many great recordings of this symphony, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a such perfectly balance in the first movement. This performance somehow reconciles the long singing line of the opening motive with the excited nervous energy of the the repeated notes and running passages. Beethoven’s writing always made those two elements work together, but this performance, for me, achieves the seeming contradiction of putting the audience into a state of blissful relaxation and edge of your seat excitement at the same time!”

Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55, “Erioca”

with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra

Terry Heckman – Principal Trumpet


Each movement, and the whole symphony. And this recording has the perfect pace and style and tempos, to my mind. I spent a lot of time with it, in a ‘candles and quiet’ phase of my life, in my little basement suite in Calgary while at school there.”

Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, “Hammerklavier”

with Anton Kuerti

Michael Swan – Concertmaster

“I saw Anton Kuerti perform this sonata live at 3rd Avenue United Church. In the few years following, he appeared twice as soloist with the SSO, first with the Schumann Concerto, and then the Brahms Concerto No. 2. I find his interpretations of the great German classics to be really stunning. A few days after his performance of the Brahms with the SSO, our core musicians were privileged to perform the Beethoven Quintet for Piano and Winds and the Schubert “Trout” Quintet with Mr. Kuerti.”

Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55, “Erioca”

with Gunther Herbig and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Erin Brophey – Principal Oboe

“The Eroica symphony is the piece in Beethoven’s répertorie where he pivots from being a classical composer to a romantic composer. In fact, it is with this seminal piece that the romantic era was born.

I’m a bit of disturber of excrement and I love music that challenges and changes pre-conceived notions. I’m so inspired that Beethoven produced art that meant something to him and didn’t care about the “rules” of the Classical era. I’ve heard many beautiful performances and recordings of this amazing piece but the first one that I studied extensively in Music School is still my favourite – TSO; Gunther Herbig, conductor; Dick Dorsey, oboe.

Violin Concerto in D Major Op. 61

with Itzhak Perlman, and Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Philharmonic

Stephanie Unverricht – Principal Bassoon

“Beethoven didn’t write solo repertoire for the bassoon, but it’s clear how much he loved bassoon based on the solos in his large orchestral works. There are so many beautiful solos in his symphonies, but I especially love the solos in the violin and piano concerti. His violin concerto begins with a simple but gorgeous woodwind chorale, followed by some simple scales. There’s a reason why we practice our scales! There are other bassoon solos sprinkled throughout. The middle of the 2nd movement has a beautiful bassoon line while the violin soloist dances on top. Connecting with the soloist on stage in this manner is such a joy.”

Serenade for Flute and Piano in D Major, Op. 41

with Emmanuel Pahud and Eric Lesage

Allison Miller – Principal Flute

“I fell in love with this recording while preparing this piece for one of the SSO Sunday chamber concerts this season. This work has been on my “must play” list for years now and I hope to be able to collaborate with my fantastic SSO colleagues and perform it soon! This recording demonstrates the highest level of refinement in modern flute playing and does justice to the delicate artistic writing Beethoven did so well for the flute. I hope you enjoy!”

Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68, “Pastoral”

Margaret Wilson – Principal Clarinet

“Started listening to it MANY times in high school – always a favourite long before I knew it was a standard requirement for almost all orchestra audition lists for clarinet.”

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat Major, Op 73, Emperor

Dr Anne Doig – SSO Board President

“Sheer exuberance! Even the more lyrical moments are uplifting. Its common name belies its dancing joyfulness. It’s not regal, in a stuffy way—but definitely King of the keyboard in my books. The first LP of this piece that I owned was Radu Lupu with the Israel Phil under Zubin Mehta. Now I use Jan’s recording as an accompaniment on road trips, or pretty much anything.”

An Die Ferne Geliebte, Op. 98

Mark Turner – Executive Director

“Before the pandemic started, I was in the midst of preparing this cycle for performances this summer. I vividly remember the first time I heard it – Ben Heppner sang it in recital, and from then on I was fascinated by this work. It runs the gamut of emotions and is such an important moment in music history, the first song cycle. It set the stage for all lieder written after it. I love Heppner’s recording, and Peter Schreier’s glorious clean Beethoven singing, but listening to Gerald Moore play this is a lesson in sensitivity and artistry.”

The SSO is teaming up with the fine folks at Brainsport to launch the return of Beat Beethoven. It’s been over a decade since Beat Beethoven was part of the SSO’s annual offerings, and now we’re remounting it as a virtual fun run with goals (and Beethoven’s) to fit everyone!

Click here for details!

We were supposed to have an After Dark event in May…if you’ve never been to one, it’s a concert meets cocktail party, meets pub trivia.  So instead, we’re bringing you After Dark pub trivia on May 23rd.  Beaming right into your home through the magic of Zoom, you can play along, try mixing our Beethoven-inspired cocktail recipes, and enjoy some surprises (maybe even a name that tune round….).

Our Beethoven Edition of pub trivia is hosted like all After Darks by bassist Richard Carnegie with bassoon help from Stephanie Unverricht.

And there’ll definitely be prizes!

It took place Saturday, May 23rd at 8pm.

Don’t worry…it was so popular it might just happen again!

In 2017, the SSO teamed up with renowned artist Denyse Klette on the beginnings of a Composers painting series. In 2019, Klette and the SSO released Beethoven 250 in honour of the global celebrations of the iconic composer.  You can see the original painting at the SSO offices (when we’re open again) – but you can also have this spectacular painting at home to enjoy!

The limited edition print comes in two different sizes, and you can even get an artist touched print just for you!


Keep an eye out for more products being released online soon!

The concert features SSO friends and amazing homegrown talents Jardena Gertler-Jaffe, Carissa Klopoushak, Godwin Friesen, and Spencer McKnight.

Download, print, and colour your own Beethoven. Based off of the art created by Denyse Klette, this colouring page encourages using as many colours and patterns your creativity can come up with! Feel free to share a photo of your artwork by tagging @ssoyxe on social media and using the hashtag #SSOBeethoven250.

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