New Beethoven

Traveling in time and space to a Beethoven world premiere in Vienna - this is probably the utopian dream of many music lovers. Getting into the world premiere of the reconstruction of a Beethoven piece is more realistic. In the late 1980's, the English musicologist Barry Cooper made waves when he patched together drafts and sketches left by Beethoven to create a "Tenth Symphony." Last weekend (Sept. 20-22), an overture got its maiden performance in Washington D.C. - it was the so-called "MacBeth Overture." Beethoven had been thinking about a whole opera entitled "MacBeth," but then he abandoned his plan. The basis for completing the overture were once again Beethoven's own drafts, but this time it didn't take a music scholar to do the job. It was an attorney from Wisconsin and a computer programmer from the Dutch city of Leiden who cooperated on the project. Both being fans of Beethoven's music, they found each other over the Internet, and the National Symphony Orchestra was delighted to bring their joint venture onstage. The orchestra can now pride itself of having hosted the first world premiere ever of a Beethoven piece in the Western hemisphere.

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