Searching for the True Beethoven. The Film

The new film "Searching for the True Beethoven. Bärenreiter Urtext Editions" gives some insight into how Beethoven editions are created. The protagonist is Jonathan Del Mar, a Beethoven expert who has dedicated much of his life to this composer. Del Mar’s editions have gained worldwide respect and acclaim. In the film he explains how he carries out his work so that conductor Sir Simon Rattle, pianist Igor Levit and the Pierrot Quartett can interprete and play Beethoven’s music just as the ingenious composer intended. These musicians are also featured in the film and demonstrate how exciting it is to incorporate Del Mar’s work in their performances.

Ludwig van Beethoven 1770–1827

“Art and science alone elevate mankind to divinity … True art is imperishable.“

Thus the words with which Beethoven, born in Bonn on the River Rhine in December 1770, proclaimed his artistic credo. In 2020 musicians and music-lovers from all over the world will celebrate the 250th birthday of a composer second to none in thinking, working and acting in a revolutionary spirit. If composers and musicians before him were the servants of kings and princes, counts and bishops, Beethoven gained artistic autonomy, even if he was dependent on annuities from aristocrats for many years. Today he is seen as one of the first original geniuses; even his contemporaries recognised in him an artist of an entirely new species.

Beethoven's œuvre embraces every genre. Many of his works have become part of humanity's world heritage, not least the Ninth Symphony with its final chorus on Schiller's “Ode to Joy”. Enthusiastic choristers all over the world sing the words “All men shall become brothers” with thrilled conviction, knowing that the attainment of this utopia is just as remote today as it was in Beethoven's time.

No small number of Beethoven’s works are deeply imprinted in the collective consciousness wherever classical music is cultivated. The “Eroica”, the Fifth Symphony, “Fidelio” with its Prisoners' Chorus, the Violin Concerto, the “Moonlight”, “Pathétique” and many other piano sonatas, the monumental “Missa solemnis”, the late string quartets: all have become 'world music', indispensable in concert halls from Tokyo to Toronto, from Johannesburg to London, from Moscow to Buenos Aires.

Bärenreiter are celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday along with the entire world. For years we have spared no effort to present many of his great works in top-quality editions in time for his anniversary year. Ever since Jonathan Del Mar embarked on his edition of the nine symphonies in 1997, Bärenreiter have become, step by step, the premier Beethoven publishing house. By 2020 all the core areas of his œuvre will be available in Urtext editions at the forefront of scholarship.