Starting from Beethoven Feature Films (1), then going to Beethoven Documentaries (2), we’ve now arrived at Beethoven From the Artist’s Perspective (3), the final part of my efforts at annotating comprehensively Beethoven Filmography. It is, after all, primarily the artists who are dealing lifelong with the music, the notes, but also with the Beethoven biography, to bring us closer to his music through their interpretations. Definitely worth seeing, in my opinion, are all 30 films that after weeks of YouTube research I have handpicked from the innumerable on offer. The criteria for inclusion in my list, beyond the general relevance of what’s been said, has also been a certain level of detail and the absolute concentration on one or more works by Beethoven. Taken into account are interviews, master classes, public rehearsals and lectures – usually in German or English. All films, chronologically listed and commented upon, are accessible on YouTube with the relevant access links given.
I would personally like to recommend especially the following films from the wide range available:
- Everything that the great conductor Leonard Bernstein said and produced about Beethoven during his long artistic life, in addition to his actual recordings of the symphonies, concertos, “Fidelio”, etc. And that is a whole lot: he shows up on my list altogether seven times (between 1954 and ca. 1985). Every film is a pure joy and object lesson.
- The seven piano master classes by Daniel Barenboim (Chicago, 2005), each about an hour in length per movement of a Beethoven piano sonata, are amongst the best that has been said about Beethoven’s music – not just a “must” for aspiring pianists. Magnificent are also the master classes by Schiff and Perahia.
- In 2002 Claudio Abbado gave a particularly moving interview in Italian (with English subtitles), addressing many aspects of Beethoven’s composition. But the rather short interview with Iván Fischer (ca. 2012) about Beethoven’s 3rd and 4th symphonies is also a highlight of Beethoven exegesis (and Beethoven dedication).
- Amongst the public rehearsals of Beethoven symphonies listed, including those by Stokowski, Celibidache and Harnoncourt, I especially recommend Herbert Blomstedt’s work on the 4th symphony with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (Munich, 2015).
- Finally, be sure to take time to listen/view the spontaneous lecturing in English by the pianist and conductor Mitsuko Uchida (Cambridge, ca. 2017). Only those who approach “interpretation” with such love and deep understanding of the real thing behind the notes come close to Beethoven’s universal greatness and significance.
I’ll be so glad, dear readers, if my Beethoven Filmography (1–3) will have contributed to your using the special medium of film as an inspiration to become involved time and again with the composer BEETHOVEN and his creations. If in your opinion I’ve overlooked an important relevant film, please be sure to let me know – at any time.