About this Recording
2.110340 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - BERLIN: A Musical Tour of Germany's Capital City (NTSC)
English 

A Musical Visit to Berlin
With music by Ludwig van Beethoven

 

CHAPTER 1

Brandenburg Gate • Charlottenburg Palace • Reichstag Building • Victory Column

The neo-classical Brandenburg Gate has long been a symbol of Berlin itself. The building of the gate was started in 1778 and its ornamental carved reliefs were eventually completed in 1795. It was restored in the 1950s, and was, until the reunification of the city, in East Berlin. On top of the gate is the Quadriga, the four-horse chariot, with a figure initially representing peace, before assuming more martial significance. Work on Schloss Charlottenburg began in 1695 under the Elector Friedrich III, later Friedrich I of Prussia, intended as a summer palace for his wife, Sophie Charlotte. It was embellished and extended during the following years. In front of the palace is an equestrian statue of the father of Elector Friedrich III, the Great Elector, Friedrich Wilhelm von Hohenzollern, Elector of Brandenburg and the ruler who established the importance of Berlin. The Reichstag, the seat of the German parliament, was built between 1884 and 1904 and rebuilt between 1957 and 1972. The Victory Column (Siegessäule), with its figure of winged victory, was built first to mark victory in 1864 in the war between Prussia and Denmark. The figure of victory was added after triumph in wars against Austria and, in 1871, against France. It was moved from in front of the Reichstag to its present position by the National Socialist government in 1938.

Music Beethoven: Symphony No 5 in C minor, Op 67 – I. Allegro con brio

Born in Bonn in 1770 and at first employed, like his father and grandfather before him, in the musical establishment of the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, in 1792 Beethoven was sent to Vienna to study with Haydn. From then onwards his career centred on Vienna, where he enjoyed aristocratic patronage, his eccentricities of character, enhanced by increasing deafness, generously tolerated. The first sketches for the fifth of his nine symphonies were made as early as 1804, but it was in 1808 that the work was eventually completed and dedicated to Count Razumovsky, the Russian Tsar’s representative in Vienna, and to Prince Lichnowsky. The symphony was first performed in a long concert, given in a cold suburban theatre, testing the endurance of a patient audience. The first movement of the Fifth Symphony starts with a figure allegedly described by Beethoven in the words ‘Thus Fate knocks at the door’.

CHAPTER 2

Charlottenburg Palace

The Charlottenburg Palace is set in extensive gardens, with its own streams and lakes. In the grounds is a Mausoleum, where deceased members of the royal family lie. The interior of the palace includes a mirrored room devoted to Chinese and Japanese porcelain and the palace chapel, its interior furnishing largely restored, includes a box for the royal family. A long gallery, the Eichengalerie, is lined with oak-panelling, and the palace houses various exhibitions, in addition to its display of ornate public rooms.

Music Beethoven: Symphony No 5 in C minor, Op 67 – II. Andante con moto

The second movement of the Fifth Symphony is a series of variations, based on the theme heard at the beginning from violas and cellos. The second variation contains the equivalent of a development section and the third includes a final coda.

CHAPTER 3

Cathedral • Schiller Memorial • Memorial Church • Old Museum • National Gallery • River Spree and Bridge

Berlin Cathedral, once a monument to the Hohenzollern dynasty, has undergone various changes before assuming its present neo-baroque form. Damaged in the war, it has been restored, with various changes, including the removal of the Hohenzollern mausoleum. The Catholic Cathedral of St Hedwig was built by royal permission after the Silesian war, to provide a place of worship for people from Silesia, then absorbed into Prussia. The building is modeled on the Roman Pantheon. The monument to the poet and playwright Schiller stands in the Gendarmenmarkt, in front of the Konzerthaus, removed by the National Socialists but restored after the war. The statue of Schiller is surrounded by allegorical figures representing other arts. The Memorial Church (Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche) was consecrated in 1895, but destroyed by bombing in 1943. The damaged tower remains with the new Memorial Hall at its foot. This last is illuminated through walls of coloured glass panels set in reinforced concrete. At the heart of Berlin is Museum Island, land surrounded by the River Spree and its tributaries. The Old Museum there is surmounted by figures of the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux. In front of the nearby National Gallery is a statue of Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who abdicated in 1861. As with other great cities, Berlin too is built by an important river, the Spree, crossed by various important bridges. These include the Schlossbrücke, with its statues of figures from classical antiquity, including Nike and Athena. These and the bridge itself were created by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in the mid-19th century.

Music Beethoven: Symphony No 5 in C minor, Op 67 – III. Allegro – IV. Allegro

The symphony continues with a Scherzo and Trio, the first of these briefly introduced before the entry of the horns with a rhythmic figure that echoes the opening of the work. The repeated Scherzo is followed by a linking passage before the C major outburst, reinforced now by piccolo, double bassoon and three trombones, that starts the sonata-form finale, with its reminiscences of the Scherzo and extended coda.

CHAPTER 4

Friedrichwerdersche Church • Nikolai Quarter • Academy Square

The Friedrichwerdersche Church was designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and completed in 1830. The interior was destroyed in the war and the building is now an art gallery, with a significant display of sculpture ranging from earlier periods to the 19th century. The Nikolai Quarter, its historic buildings again restored after war-time destruction, borders the River Spree. The Nikolaikirche, with its brick exterior and Gothic interior, is the oldest such building in Berlin, dating originally from the 13th century. Destroyed like much else in Berlin in 1945, the church was later rebuilt. The Television Tower can be seen in many views of Berlin, towering over the historic buildings of the city.

Music Beethoven: Overture: Leonora No 3, Op 72a

Beethoven wrote only one opera, Fidelio, its plot based on a French original. The heroine, Leonora, assumes the identity of a boy, Fidelio, in order to rescue her husband Florestan from the dungeon where he has been unjustly imprisoned and condemned to death. She is able to intervene to save him, their final safety secured by the timely arrival of the forces of good. Unsuccessful at its first performance in Vienna in 1805, when Vienna was under French
occupation, the opera was revised in 1814 with a new overture, Fidelio. The first two overtures, Leonora No 1 and No 2, were followed by No 3, which retains a place in concert repertoire if not in the theatre. It anticipates the opera in its off-stage trumpet call, announcing the arrival of the Governor, ensuring a happy ending to the drama.

CHAPTER 5

City Shots • Neptune Fountain • State Opera • Reichstag Building

The Neptune Fountain, inspired by Bernini’s fountains, was created by Reinhold Begas in 1886. The figure of Neptune stands over four great German rivers, the Vistula, the Rhine, the Elbe and the Oder. The Staatsoper Unter den Linden, with its neo-classical façade, was built in the 18th century, restored in the 19th and completely rebuilt after war-time destruction, its new existence dating from 1955. A monument to German unity, the Reichstag was built in the 1890s and badly damaged by fire in 1933, an event attributed by the Nazis, to the Communists. It was rebuilt between 1957 and 1972, and able, after German reunification, to resume its original purpose.

Music Beethoven: Overture: Egmont, Op 84

In 1810 Beethoven wrote incidental music for Goethe’s play Egmont. The play deals with the rebellion of Count Egmont against Spanish domination of the Netherlands in the 16th century. The overture is programmatic, and it has been suggested that the slow sarabande rhythm of the opening represents the Spanish Governor of the province, the Duke of Alba, while the first subject of the following Allegro may depict the rebel cause. The closing section brings the death of Egmont and his consequent moral victory.

Keith Anderson

Recordings

Symphony No 5 (with No 6 ‘Pastoral’)
Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Richard Edlinger [Naxos 8.553224]

Beethoven Overtures Vol 1
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Stephen Gunzenhauser [Naxos 8.550072]


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