Although today, Ludwig van Beethoven is judged to have made himself immortal through principally his instrumental music, the composer himself nurtured an unquenchable desire to achieve supreme recognition in the field of vocal music, which at the time was regarded as belonging to a higher aesthetic order. For example, in 1807, a mere year after the premiere of his only opera, Fidelio, he approached the governors of the court theatres, asking for a permanent contract, during the course of which he would undertake to compose "at least one large opera per year." His applications remained unanswered, which conceivably explains why the disappointed composer - despite continuing in the apparent futile hope of finding a suitable libretto - sort solace by immersing himself in other kinds of stage music. In 1809-1810, Beethoven wrote first the incidental music to Egmont, and in the following year, did the same for The Ruins of Athens and King Stephen. During this period, artistic inspiration audibly dwindled: while Goethe's drama Egmont (at least, in the overture) inspired Beethoven to give his best, August von Kotzebue's two incidental pieces (ordered for the opening of the Pest National Theatre) extracted only "incidental music" from the great composer's pen. We can also sense this from the speed that Beethoven chose to work at. Beethoven never wrote with the ease of Mozart or Handel, and only received the texts at the end of July 1811. He posted the two scores to Pest in mid-September, so that the orchestral parts could be copied in time for the planned premiere on October 1st. The theatre postponed the opening until February 9th 1812, but even this did not guarantee Beethoven sufficient time to improve on the music which he had written at such uncommon haste. It is little wonder then, that neither composition has succeeded in finding a niche for itself in the concert repertoire. Having said that, the slow verbunk music of the King Stephen overture is fine, inspired music by any standards and hearing its Hungarian tone, we can only feel regret that one of Beethoven's recurring theatrical plans, to write an Attila opera (based on a text by Kotzebue) was never to progress beyond the ideas' stage.
Symphony no. 9 in D minor, op. 125
I. Allegro, ma non troppo II. Molto vivace III. Adagio molto e cantabile IV. Presto
Beethoven's more frequently performed symphonies have tended to attract nicknames: thus the Third is known as the Eroica, the Fifth as the "Fate", the Sixth is the Pastoral, while the Seventh is often refered to as "The apotheosis of the dance" (a quote from Wagner). The Ninth though, is generally known as "The Ninth", proving that Beethoven had truly said the last word in the genre, and had gone way beyond all the masterpieces that had come before. It is no accident that many of the great symphonic composers of later generations growing up in Beethoven's shadow (Schubert, Bruckner, Dvorak and Mahler) could not themselves go on to complete a tenth symphony.
The Ninth symphony still transfixes us somehow - unfortunately, for many, it has become synonymous with the Ode to Joy melody. This simplification has some justification, since we know that Beethoven had long pondered setting Schiller's verse to music - he first dwelt on the concept during his early Bonn years, and we know of similar plans dating from 1798 and 1812. And we also have the Choral Fantasy (1808), which although setting a different text, employs a melody that is an unmistakable predecessor to the tune that is now the European Union's anthem. We must not make the mistake though of hearing and regarding the first three movements as merely "setting the scene" for the Ode to Joy. The melody is a very simple one, and the variations that are built upon it only gain their appropriate dramatic weight because of the arduous path traversed to reach it - even though looking back, this pathway, when the bass strings with their wordless recitative reject fragmented details from the first three movement, appears an abberation. Beethoven himself (in common with some contemporary analysts) was disatisfied with the finale and after the premiere, planned to compose an entirely new version. However, we know nothing about what this would have entailed. Could the new version have been "better" than the one we know today? Perhaps. But it is the resonance of the finale, its striving for greatness, that makes the Ninth "The Ninth", and at the same time, frames it as a deserving partner to the Missa Solemnis: in truth, neither instruments nor voices can ennunciate the final word.
Eszter Sümegi was born in Mohács, and after her vocal studies, graduated from the opera faculty of the Budapest Franz Liszt Music Academy in 1993. She immediately became a member of the Hungarian State Opera House. A year earlier, she won the Luciano Pavarotti International Singing Competition in Philadelphia. In Budapest, she made her debut as Mimi in Puccini's La Boheme, a role she repeated a few years later in Toronto. Her Tosca could be heard not just by Hungarian audiences: in 2000 she performed it at the Bregenzi Festival and the next year at the Salzburg festival. Her wide repertoire extends besides opera to oratorios, cantatas and songs.
In 2010, Miklós Sebestyén made his highly successful debut asErcole in Handel’s Admeto at Leipzig’s opera. Two years earlier,he made his house debut there in a new production of ManonLescuat under the baton of Riccardo Chailly. Since, he is amember of this company and will sing parts in operas by Gluck, Handel, Mozart,Puccini, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Verdi during the 2010/2011 season.
Miklós Sebestyén was born in 1979 in Budapest, where he started his musicalstudies from an early age on. In his hometown he trained singing and played severalinstruments. He received his first singing training at the music school andconservatory in Budapest. He was awarded several prizes at national andinternational singing competitions.
In October 2002 he continued his studies at the Hochschule für Musik Zürich withLázló Polgár and became a member of the opera studio Tóth Aladár, where heperformed parts like: Cimarosa Il matrimonio secreto/Conte Robinson, Mozart Don
Giovanni/Masetto, Le nozze di Figaro/Bartolo/Antonio, Pergolesi La servapadrona/Vespone, Rossini La cambiale di matrimonio/Tobia Mill.
Since 2005 the bass continued his studies in Munich at the Hochschule für Musik undTheater. At the Prinzregententheater München Miklós Sebestyén was singingperformances at the Theaterakademie August Everding: Mozart Così fan tutte/Don
Alfonso (2007), Tschaikowskij Eugen Onegin/Gremin (2006).
In 2006, he sung Fafner, Hunding, and Hagen in Philippe Arlaud’s production of DerRing an einem Abend in Bayreuth. The same year he made his debut as Figaro in aproduction of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro in the Pasinger Fabrik in München.
At the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich Miklós Sebestyén was a guest artistin Phillip Glas’ Die Schöne und das Biest and, during the 2008/2009 season, heperformed at the Staatstheater Nürnberg as Colline in La bohéme. He made hisdebut at the International Music Festival in Miskolc/Hungary in 2009, where he wasaccompanied by the Budapest Philharmonic in Schönberg’s Moses und Aron.
Miklós Sebestyén regularly gives recitals, where his repertoire includes lieder byBrahms, Wolf, Schubert, and Schumann. He is a busy concert singer with a
repertoire by composers such as J. S. Bach, Beethoven, Händel, Haydn, Mozart, andSchubert. In 2009, Miklós Sebestyén made his debut at the Klangvokal Musikfestivalin Dortmund, where he sang Haydn’s The Creation.
In 2010, the bass made his debut with the Hungarian National Orchestra conductedby Zoltán Kocsis, singing Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death.