Beethoven Unleashed

Beethoven Unleashed

The music, the man and how he became an icon


He was a revolutionary, an innovator, a disruptor. A man who accomplished incredible success, but endured serious personal hardships. A legend who changed the way audiences listen to music and whose melodies still resonate today, 250 years after his birth.

Go on a journey to explore the life and works of arguably the greatest composer in history: Ludwig van Beethoven.

Join Donald Macleod, presenter of BBC Radio 3's Composer of the Week, as he brings Beethoven vividly to life: from his childhood in Bonn to how he won over the aristocratic music circles of Vienna, from the creation of his timeless works to the tragic loss of his hearing - and everything in between.

Beethoven the legendary composer is just part of the story. In this exclusive BBC Audio release, other sides to his personality will be revealed, such as the man who experienced ordinary difficulties in family, friendship and love; and the playful character who introduced the scherzo (literally, "joke") into symphony.

Over 60 episodes, this radio masterpiece includes more than six hours of Beethoven's timeless music performed by the BBC Philharmonic and BBC Symphony Orchestra.

BBC Philharmonic / Gianandrea Noseda (conductor):

Symphony No 4 B flat major, Op 60
Symphony No 5 in C minor, Op 67
Symphony No 6 in F major, Op 63
Symphony No 8 in F major, Op 93
Overture from Die Ruinen von Athen, Op 113

BBC Symphony Orchestra; Sakari Oramo (conductor):

Symphony No 3 in E flat major, Op 55
Leonore Overture No 2

BBC Philharmonic / Vassily Sinaisky (conductor):

Fidelio Overture

BBC Philharmonic / Juanjo Mena (conductor):

Musik zu einem Ritterballet Woo.1
Egmont overture
Symphony No 7 in A major, Op 92

Khatia Buniatishvili (piano):

Khatia Buniatishvili appears courtesy of Sony Classical
Excerpts from:
Piano Sonata No.17 in D minor, Op.31 No.2, "The Tempest"
Piano sonata No.19 in G minor, Op.49 No.1
Piano Sonata No.23 in F minor, Op. 57, "Appassionata"

Written and presented by Donald Macleod
Produced by Martin Smith, Chris Taylor, Sam Phillips, Mike Evans, Amelia Parker, Amy Wheel
Consultant: Dr Erica Buurman
Commissioned by BBC Radio 3

Music copyright restrictions mean that the musical interludes in this programme are provided as punctuation to the narrative, rather than a direct illustration.

About the author

Donald Macleod

Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more