Imagine hearing this for the first time

Posted by Tory Historian Saturday, May 07, 2011 ,

Tory Historian was reminded today by Radio 3 (one can still listen to that from time to time) that today is the anniversary of the very first performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

The Ninth Symphony was premiered on May 7, 1824 in the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna, along with the Consecration of the House Overture and the first three parts of the Missa Solemnis. This was the composer's first on-stage appearance in 12 years; the hall was packed. The soprano and alto parts were interpreted by two famous young singers: Henriette Sontag and Caroline Unger.
Concert goers had more stamina in those days.

Accounts of the performance differ but they all seem to involve Beethoven's presence on the stage, though he could no longer conduct, having gone deaf, and the need to turn him round to see rather than hear the audience's reaction, though whether the great applause came after the Scherzo of the last movement or after the whole of the performance remains doubtful.

Which performance to choose? TH has decided to go with Herbert von Karajan:


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