Beethoven

San Antonio Symphony

The San Antonio Symphony's fall performance season starts on Saturday. Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing's enthusiasm for the performances ahead is catching.


Beethoven began writing his third symphony, the “Eroica,” when he was inspired by Napoleon Bonaparte, then a hero of the French Revolution.

But by the time the symphony was finished, the composer dedicated it “to the memory of a great man,” even though Napoleon was still alive.

Imagine you're a teenager in Beijing in the 1960s and '70s, during the Cultural Revolution. Everything that's deemed Western and bourgeois is banned — so listening to a 78 rpm recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, powerfully transformative as it might be, is off limits.

All composers have obsessions. For John Adams, a composer who decidedly broke with the past, that obsession is Beethoven, as heard in the new album Absolute Jest.

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