Message from Sunriver Music Festival’s Maestro George Hanson: Continuing Our Deep Dive into Beethoven’s Ninth

Hello Friends of the Sunriver Music Festival,

Perhaps you’ve settled into our extraordinary circumstance during these trying days — or perhaps the stir-crazies are starting! In either case, I would like to share some interactive thoughts about how anyone — particularly a conductor, but also a listener — prepares to experience one of the greatest artistic creations in the history of Western Civilization: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. As you know, Sunriver Music Festival will close my tenth and final season this year with a performance of the Ninth. Of course the most important way of preparing to hear the Ninth is to buy a ticket! I definitely recommend buying the full season series; we will be leading up to the Ninth with the Third and the Fifth Symphonies. I want to share with you, in a series of accompanying audio recordings and some video links, how I have prepared over the years for this performance. I have had the privilege of performing it numerous times in both the U.S. and Germany; yet each time I approach it I do so as if it were the first time. For our first session together I will focus primarily on one of the most important components in preparing for any performance: TEMPO. In other words, how fast should the music go? Beethoven indicates a precise tempo marking in his score — so why doesn’t everyone just do it at Beethoven’s tempo? As a way of preparing for my short audio presentation, listen to the first minute or two of this performance of the opening movement by conductor Daniel Barenboim (click here).

Next, the first two minutes of John Eliot Gardiner conducting the same music (click here).

I would LOVE to get your impressions — please share them in a reply to this email address! Which one do you prefer, and why? Or do you not like either performance?

Here is a link to my discussion. Have a listen, and let us know what you think!

Lastly, as I talk about in the audio linked above, here is a photo of the first page of my personal score for the Ninth. This is actually my SECOND score; the first was so full of notes I could no longer read it clearly. You’ll note a number of initials with numbers, indicating the tempi of several conductors, including “GH,” which of course is yours truly, and a big “NO” written next to it. In other words, I didn’t like that tempo, which I must have done at some point in my performing career.

Enjoy this little diversion, get ready for a great summer in Central Oregon, and stay well! See you soon,

George Hanson
Music Director
Sunriver Music Festival


Along with you, we have been watching closely as events unfold in rapid succession day after day. In response to the ongoing developments surrounding COVID-19, we will postpone the launch of ticket sales, while proceeding with planning for the wonderful concert series, for the 2020 Summer Festival. We thank you for your continued patience in these uncertain times, and we will continue to keep you informed about any additional changes.

Revolutionary! Beethoven at 250:

Curated and conducted by Maestro George Hanson, this 43rd annual Summer Festival features an abundance of world-class soloists and professional Festival Orchestra from around the country.

Click here for concert details.
Ticket Sales Schedule:

Festival members can reserve their favorite seats now. Click here for membership details. We welcome you to the Festival family! Tickets will go on sale June 1.

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