Austin Symphony Orchestra: Roll over, Beethoven

The Austin Symphony is set on playing all nine of Beethoven's symphonies before it makes its first appearance in the Long Center in 2008

King "B" completists, take note: The Austin Symphony is dead set on playing all nine of Beethoven's symphonies before it makes its first appearance in the Long Center in 2008, and it'll embark on this majestic undertaking in just a few short weeks. Come Oct. 6 and 7, music director Peter Bay will lead the ASO through Symphony No. 1, and from there, conductor and musicians will work their way through every one of Ludwig's symphonic masterworks every couple of months through the rest of this season and the next. (Well, with the exception of No. 6, which Maestro Bay snuck into a concert this past April and won't be repeating.) Perhaps to make up for the missing Pastoral or to whet our appetites for the glories to come, Bay has incorporated a bit of Beethoven into the opening concert of the orchestra's 96th season this weekend: the Violin Concerto in D. After a 12-year absence, the incomparable Joshua Bell – he of The Red Violin fame – will return to Austin and bring his 293-year-old Stradivarius and virtuosic skill to bear on the composer's only concerto for violin. If that doesn't get you salivating over this banquet of Beethoven coming our way over the next two seasons, I'm not sure what will.

Now, Peter Bay's Schroeder-esque fixation on Ludwig van doesn't mean he's done with our dear friend Dmitri. We're still in the thick of Shostakovich 100, that 12-month citywide celebration of the composer's centenary, and Bay has turned the second program of the new season completely over to Shostakovich, with performances of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in F and the "Babi Yar" Symphony No. 13, featuring pianist Melissa Marse and bassist Nikita Storojev as guests. A taste of Russian winter as we ease into autumn.

The Austin Symphony performs Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D with violinist Joshua Bell Sept. 1 and 3, Friday and Sunday; Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 2 in F and Symphony No. 13 with pianist Melissa Marse and bassist Nikita Storojev Sept. 22 and 24, Friday and Sunday; and Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 Oct. 6 and 7, Friday and Saturday, all at 8pm, in Bass Concert Hall. For more information, call 476-6064 or visit

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Austin Symphony, ASO, Beethoven, Peter Bay

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