St Petersburg, Mariinsky II

Beethoven. Symphony No 9

Opening of the season at the Mariinsky II

Maria Bayankina (soprano)
Yulia Matochkina (mezzo-soprano)
Sergei Semishkur (tenor)
Mikhail Petrenko (bass)

Mariinsky Chorus and Orchestra
Conductor: Valery Gergiev

Ludwig van Beethoven
Symphony No 9

About the Concert

On 6 September the Mariinsky II will host its first-ever concert featuring an acoustic shell.

The acoustic shell is a specially designed construction intended to improve the acoustic qualities of a stage space when performing symphony music on a theatre stage. Many of the world’s theatres and concert venues have such constructions. It is a collapsible construction in the form of vertical acoustically reflective panels installed on eight rolling towers and a specifically designed acoustic ceiling, with integral lighting and a complex of lifting mechanisms. The space required for the reflective acoustic surfaces comes to over 550m2 and its total weight is over thirteen tonnes.

The particular nature of the acoustic shell for the Mariinsky II is defined, first and foremost, by the demands of compact storage and swift on-stage installation – this being due to the theatre’s intense schedule. According to preliminary estimates, installation of the construction should take no more than one and a half hours, though this procedure generally takes between five and six hours. The acoustic design of the shell was undertaken by specialists of MÜLLER-BBM GmbH from Germany, which was actively involved in the design and construction of the Mariinsky II. The construction documentation and production of the acoustic shell have been executed by Russian companies and specialists.

And through the peace of worldly space,
The ninth wave washed to the very stars
O Thought, reveal yourself! Word, become music,
Strike to the hearts of men, let the world rejoice!
Nikolai Zabolotsky
. Beethoven

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony ranks alongside such great works of art as Homer’s poems, Dante’s La divina commedia, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Goethe’s Faust and Bach’s High Mass... It expressed the aims of its age in an utterly perfect manner, and at the same time it gave a voice to human ideals to which we remain faithful to this very day. It concluded Beethoven the symphonist’s artistic path and it also paved the way for the future.
By including poetic verse in the symphony, Beethoven took an incredibly innovative step which initially staggered his contemporaries. For the composer himself, the writing of the Ninth Symphony was the result of many years’ work in an attempt to find a musical embodiment for Schiller’s Ode an die Freude.
For the first time, Beethoven took a text in order to express the philosophical concept of a symphony. But the most important thing, even starting with Beethoven himself, is that the symphony – as subtly expressed by German music historian Paul Bekker – performs the role of a “secular mass” that brings concert hall audiences together in the same way that a Sunday mass brings parishioners together at church. And it is not by chance that Beethoven’s brilliant rendering of Schiller’s Ode an die Freude is the official anthem of the European Union, a united Europe. It is not by chance that it is performed everywhere as an apotheosis of freedom and fraternity of all mankind.
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was first performed on 7 May 1824 in Vienna under the baton of the composer.
Iosif Raiskin

Age category 6+

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