Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
Beethoven’s mighty Ninth Symphony has been performed regularly at Hope Street throughout Liverpool Philharmonic’s long life.
In 1866, conductor Alfred Mellon was joined by soloists Swedish operatic soprano Mathilda Enequist, leading contralto Madame Patey-Whytock (Janet Monach Patey), tenor William Hayman Cummings and bass John Patey, along with an orchestra and chorus numbering 250.
Seven years later, the Ninth concluded a ‘revival’ season of Beethoven’s Symphonies at Hope Street, while in April 1886 the Liverpool Philharmonic Choral Society performed the work with Dr Hans Richter’s orchestra.
Almost 70 years later, in 1941 and a month before the Liverpool Blitz, Malcolm Sargent conducted the stellar quartet of Isobel Baillie, Mary Jarred, Walter Widdop and Norman Walker – three of whom would return to reprise their roles under Sargent again in 1946.
John Pritchard directed the symphony as part of the Orchestra’s Industrial Concerts series in 1955, and Charles Groves took the baton in 1963.
And on January 3, 1991, Charles Mackerras conducted – observing Beethoven’s original tempi and instructions - with a young Welsh bass-baritone called Bryn Terfel among the soloists.
Did you know? In Japan, performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is a Christmas tradition with concerts across the country, many including a singalong Ode to Joy.
Puerto Rican composer Robert Sierra was in the hall to take a bow when the Orchestra and Domingo Hindoyan gave the world premiere of his new Salseando Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra in 2020.
And now Liverpool is the scene for a second Sierra world premiere, with audiences getting the chance to hear the first performance of his Symphony No. 6, co-commissioned by Liverpool Philharmonic, National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Liverpool mezzo Jennifer Johnston needs little introduction to Hope Street audiences.
Our former Artist-in-Residence started her career as a teenage member of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and in an interview in 2018 recalled: “I learned such a lot in those three years which really formed me later as a performer.
“I heard so many big-name singers and performed, not just in the choir with big name conductors, but also did some solos which gave me an early chance to be heard and to work under pressure.
“I could claim my professional debut came when I sang the voice from heaven in Honegger’s Joan of Arc, with Libor Pesek conducting.”
Jennifer is joined in this Ode to Joy concert by three other world-class singers.
Romanian operatic soprano Anita Hartig has performed at Covent Garden, La Scala, the Paris Opera and New York Met among other prestigious global venues, while her symphonic repertoire also includes Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, Faure’s Requiem and Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony.
Along with his operatic career, tenor Andrew Staples is also a prolific concert performer who has appeared with orchestras including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Sir Simon Rattle.
And bass Tareq Nazmi has both recorded the Beethoven Symphony Cycle (with the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir) and performed it live with the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras as part of their Beethoven 250 celebrations.