Beethoven: Innovator – a 250th celebration

Ludwig van Beethoven

We hosted an inspiring three-day festival in celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. We explored some of his most innovative works with pianist Dr Robert Taub, Music Director, The Arts Institute, the Ruisi Quartet and composer Jonathan Dawe.

“Who makes the rules!”
– Beethoven to his friend Ferdinand Ries when the latter questioned the parallel fifths in the String Quartet in C minor, Op.18 no.4.

Beethoven - sketches for the fugue (fifth movement) of Piano Sonata Op.106 ‘Hammerklavier’. Image courtesy of Dr William Scheide, Scheide Library, Princeton University 

Beethoven - sketches for the fugue (fifth movement) of Piano Sonata Op.106 ‘Hammerklavier’. Image courtesy of Dr William Scheide, Scheide Library, Princeton University 


In this special festival Robert and guest artists performed works that Beethoven spent many years composing, and which challenged accepted expectations of audiences of his time. Our internationally acclaimed performers animated the dancing black dots on the pages of some of Beethoven's most personal and transcendent works.

As part of the festival we also showcased the world premiere of a new piece composed by Jonathan Dawe. Commissioned by The Arts Institute, Jonathan selected Beethoven’s musical sketches for his last String Quartet, Op.135, and created a new composition for string quartet that brings these sketches to life through musical lenses of our 21st Century.



30 September, 19:30

Public Lecture Demonstration: Beethoven and his Sketchbook
“Beethoven – Adventurous, Heroic, Transcendent”
An informal lecture and music demonstration led by Jonathan Dawe, composer and Robert Taub, pianist

1 October, 19:30

Concert: Beethoven Piano Sonatas
  • Piano Sonata Op.2 no.1
  • Piano Sonata Op.53 Waldstein
  • Piano Sonata Op.111
Dr Robert Taub, piano

2 October, 15:00

Open rehearsal: Ruisi Quartet
Rehearsed Beethoven Op.59 no. 1, Beethoven Op.135, Dawe String Quartet based on Beethoven sketches for Op.135

2 October, 19:30

Concert: Ruisi Quartet
  • Beethoven String Quartets Op.59 no.1
  • Jonathan Dawe, world premiere, based on Beethoven's sketches for Op. 135
  • Beethoven String Quartets Op. 135
Alessandro Ruisi, violin; Oliver Cave, violin; Luba Tunnicliffe, viola; Max Ruisi, cello

An unceasing innovator, Beethoven was never content to conform to expected norms of musical composition. He led the vanguard of new music. Driven obsessively by his compelling artistic vision and his belief that creativity is the highest aspiration of mankind, Beethoven sought an all-embracing musical continuum. His ever-expanding concepts of musical perception, perhaps partially engendered by his deafness, enabled him to pursue his Inner Ear unencumbered by pre-conceived limitations of the possible.

Beethoven’s music burst upon the musical world, changing it forevermore. His 32 piano sonatas, the earliest of which he wrote as vehicles for himself as both composer and pianist, were his most immediate and intimate crucible of musical experimentation. He forced forward demands placed upon pianists, upon pianos themselves, and upon listeners. His 16 string quartets often took these experiments of musical perception to further new levels, which in turn were further refined in his nine symphonies.

"Much of Beethoven’s music was revolutionary. It can sound new and innovative today if we immerse ourselves in understanding how his music was created and why, and then play his works as if the ink is barely dry on the pages. That is what we will do." 
– Dr Robert Taub.

With support from Fidelio Charitable Trust.

More from the festival

Beethoven: Innovator - the podcast

Join Dr Robert Taub and Professor James Daybell as they explore some of Beethoven's most innovative works, his influence and the evolution of listening to music.

This captivating five part podcast series investigates topics including how we hear music, how our perceptions of music have evolved over time, and an insight into Beethoven's sketches.

Discover more and listen

Immortal Beloved (1994)

Immortal Beloved (1994)

Beethoven on film

Delve into an entertaining collection of films exploring Beethoven’s cinematic legacy, as recommended by The Arts Institute’s film programmer Anna Navas and Music Director Dr Robert Taub.

See our film recommendations