Google plans cross-continent concert for Beethoven's 250th birthday

Ten orchestras across six continents will play 'Ode to Joy' to raise money for struggling musicians.

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Global Ode to Joy

Were he still alive today, Ludwig van Beethoven would turn 250 years old on December 17th. You can celebrate the anniversary of the composer’s birthday by opening up the Google Arts & Culture app on your phone and online.

There, you’ll find a variety of experiences dedicated to recounting his life and influence on music. One will tell you about the little-known story of George Bridgetower, a Black violin virtuoso to whom Beethoven originally dedicated his Violin Sonata No. 9 Sonata — the tale involves a drunken bar brawl between the two. Another will detail Beethoven’s influence on modern music. But the highlight of the celebration is a concert you’ll be able to watch on December 3rd at 7:30 PM ET through YouTube. 

Heading into 2020, conductor Marin Aslop had planned to do a year-long concert series devoted to the composer, with performances scheduled in six different continents. Obviously, that became impossible with the coronavirus pandemic. So instead they now plan to do the next best thing: one online concert with 10 orchestras from around the world taking part. Leading up to tonight’s show, artists from around were asked to share videos that inspire joy in them. A selection of those videos will be play while Aslop and company run through Ode to Joy. If you like what you see, you can donate to Music for Relief, which is trying to raise money for musicians struggling financially through the pandemic. 

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