The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Artificial Intelligence will complete Beethoven’s 10th Symphony | December 20, 2019

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By Jacob Stockinger

The timing of the announcement and project couldn’t be more perfect as we are now about the enter The Beethoven Year.

2020 will see the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven (below).

And word is that hi tech in the form of AI will come to rescue of art through a powerful computer program.

That is, artificial intelligence will be used to complete the drafts and sketches of an unfinished 10th symphony by Beethoven. (Below is Beethoven’s manuscript for the opening of the iconic Fifth Symphony.)

It will not be the first time. You can hear a well researched if less rigorous and less technological version of Beethoven’s 10th, assembled by Barry Cooper, in the YouTube video at the bottom.

Whether we end up with a piece of music that can be performed or that we want to hear remains to be seen. After all, how many times do you hear — or want to hear — live performances of completed versions of Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony or Mahler’s unfinished 10th?

So Beethoven’s 10th may end up being more a curiosity than a work of art.

But at least we may get an idea of where Beethoven was headed after his unconventional and revolutionary Ninth Symphony that influenced so many later composers.

You can learn more about it by going to the homepage of Classical FM, an important British radio station. Here is a link:

https://www.classicfm.com/composers/beethoven/news/computer-completes-unfinished-tenth-symphony/

 


1 Comment »

  1. I have mixed feelings about this.

    First, anything by Beethoven is good and this would be his penultimate symphony. Second, it is his anniversary year and will generate publicity; especially among people who might not listen to his works.

    BUT, computer programs are developed by human programers who are not Beethoven and do not have his unique skills; so is it really his? And is it really in his honor or just a media event to attract publicity?

    He might have deplored this kind of action himself. That’s also true of many composers who left snippets behind but would not want a program/programmer claiming it is responsible for a final work.

    Finally, there are plenty of composers who wrote music that is neglected today; left them have their day in the concert hall instead.

    Comment by fflambeau — December 20, 2019 @ 3:03 am


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