The COE celebrates Beethoven’s 250th birthday

Special announcement

It is with great disappointment that we must inform you that the Luxembourg and Paris Philharmonies have  been forced to cancel our forthcoming concerts with Yannick Nézet-Séguin who was due to be conducting Beethoven symphony cycles in both cities.  This project was of course going to be a major milestone in the close to 40 year life of the COE and the concerts, apart from being sold out weeks ago, were going to be recorded for Deutsche Grammophon.

Beethoven’s symphonic repertoire has been at the very heart of the COE since its foundation in 1981, and it is an immense blow for us to lose this opportunity to be able to rediscover, perform and record these extraordinary works with Yannick, our special Honorary Member.

It is almost 30 years ago that we performed and recorded our first Beethoven symphony cycle with our first Honorary Member, Nikolaus Harnoncourt , a recording which went on to win every major recording award and which sold over one million CDs. Looking to the future, we will hopefully find a way to bring our current project back to life with Yannick and will announce our rescheduled plans  as soon as possible.

Inevitably, we are very concerned about all our concerts that are scheduled in the coming months, particularly those in Germany in May and early June as well as our visit to the Bravo Vail Festival in Colorado with Yuja Wang at the end of June.  While we hope a miracle may yet happen, we have to be realistic and accept that all our forthcoming projects in the next few months are in jeopardy as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.  We can however assure you that we have every intention of fighting our way through these difficult times and indeed being in a position to continue to make music at the highest level throughout the world, as we have done for almost four decades.

A message from Yannick


Special announcement

Beethoven’s music and spirit is at the very heart of the COE and we are very much looking forward to celebrating his 250th birthday during 2020.

Beethoven was a true maverick, a composer of extraordinary importance who changed music and the sound of music in a revolutionary way so that it would never be the same again. We are incredibly proud of our recordings of his nine symphonies taken “live” in performance with the legendary Nikolaus Harnoncourt in 1990/1991. Nikolaus’s interpretation of these great works, where “beauty was always on the edge of catastrophe” had a life-changing effect on the COE’s musicians.

Over the last 10 years COE’s Beethoven journey has been led by Bernard Haitink and Yannick Nézet-Séguin with Symphony cycles at the Lucerne Festival, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and the Edinburgh International Festival.



Beethoven on tour

Performance highlights as part of our Beethoven 250 celebrations include symphonies and concertos with conductors Vladimir Jurowski and Alan Gilbert and soloists Martha Argerich, Lisa Batiashvili, Joshua Bell, Rudolf Buchbinder, Renaud Capuçon, Vilde Frang and Dénes Varjon. Please find below more details in relation to the venues and Festivals that have announced our performances:

August/September 2019: Piano Concerto Cycle I with Rudolf Buchbinder
30 August 2019 – Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 5 – Musikfest Bremen, Bremerhaven, Germany
1 September 2019 – Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 5 – Grafenegg Festival, Austria

February 2020: Piano Concerto No. 4 with Denes Varjon and Lorenza Borrani
4 February 2020 – Budapest Liszt Academy, Hungary
6 February 2020 – DeSingel, Antwerp, Belgium
7 February 2020 – De Oosterpoort, Groningen, Netherlands

April 2020: Symphony Cycle with Yannick Nézet-Séguin
It is with great disappointment that we have been advised that our concerts at the Philharmonie Luxembourg and Philharmonie de Paris on 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st , 24th, 25th and 26th April would no longer take place, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

May 2020 – Kreutzer Sonata for violin and string orchestra with Renaud Capuçon
It is with great disappointment that we have been advised that our concerts at the Berlin Philharmonie and at the Dortmund Konzerthaus would no longer take place due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

June and July 2020: Piano Concerto cycle in Germany with Jan Lisiecki
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, our concerts on 8th and 9th June at the Klavierfest Ruhr, 10th June in Würzburg, 12th and 13th June in Ludwigsburg, 9th and 10th July at the Rheingau Festival, 12th July in Ingolstadt, 15th July in Kiel and 16th July in Lübeck have been cancelled.

August 2020: Beethoven tour with Joshua Bell
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this tour has now been cancelled.

September 2020: Piano Concerto Cycle II with Rudolf Buchbinder
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this concert has now been cancelled.

November 2020: Piano Concerto No. 1 with Martha Argerich and Vladimir Jurowski
25 November 2020 – Philharmonie de Paris, France
26 November 2020 – Kölner Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
Other dates and locations to be announced.


Beethoven credentials

Beethoven symphonies recording with Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1991)

The Beethoven recordings of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in 1991 under Nikolaus Harnoncourt represented then the culmination of what can now be seen as the beginning of a long-standing artistic collaboration and friendship.
Indeed, the first encounter ever of these two forces was a pure Beethoven project – something which, in retrospect, seems so obvious and natural.

The first rehearsals in October 1986 took place in a musty recording studio in the bowels of the Wiener Konzerthaus. This musical “blind date” was arranged by an adventurous (visionary?) impresario and subtly nudged along by a handful of COE members who had contact with Nikolaus Harnoncourt through other ensembles.

At the time no one could have foreseen the outcome of this venture. Beethoven’s Sixth and Eighth Symphonies, both pieces the COE had performed extensively, were the first to be rehearsed and the impressions of those earliest rehearsals remain strongly implanted in our minds.

Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s strong musical-historical perspective, combined with his extraordinary imagination and his ability to effectively communicate and synthesise them both, quite naturally matched the COE’s desire for “answers” and its ability to transfer – usually very quickly – complex concepts into the orchestral context. We quickly and readily grasped the ides and techniques of a rhetorical approach to music-making. The similarities and differences of modern orchestral instrumentarium and that of our 18th- and 19th-century counterparts were also consciously and critically reconsidered in regards to developing a playing style (our use of historically-oriented brass and timpani being the most obvious aspect of this). The results were often instantaneous. The “Pastoral” Symphony with its clear programme was perhaps the most eye-opening example. The Scene at the Brook or the Thunderstorm for example, were alive with flow and power of “nature” as we had collectively never experienced it in this music before. A “journey” through the antique church modes over cantus firmus style motives in the last movement of the Eighth Symphony – a piece we thought we knew well – had more than a few of us thinking “… is he making this up?” He was not.

The monumental Fifth Symphony ended our first set of concerts. Playing this piece for the first time, the Orchestra was possessed by the music and the new musical language it was learning. So possessed was it, in fact, that still today many cannot remember how the concert actually was. One certain memory is that, after the final chord there was only silence followed by a loud groan from a member of the audience and then a spattering of applause which slowly grew.

Dane Roberts
COE Double-Bass

Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the COE



Released November 2019: Warner Music’s Beethoven Complete Works

On 29th November 2019, Warner Music released its first-ever Beethoven Complete Works in an 80-CD box-set. We are delighted to feature on a significant number of discs, particularly with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, as well as alongside Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Gidon Kremer amongst other soloists. Warner tells us that the box-set “draws discerningly on the riches of the label’s catalogue, assuring integrity by assigning entire cycles to the same artist, ensemble or team of performers. Classics from the age of the LP are complemented by the best of the CD era and by a wealth of new recordings of rarely heard works that are ripe for discovery. This is a comprehensive and deeply satisfying tribute to Beethoven, a transformative force who has enhanced the lives of music-lovers for more than two centuries.”
Please click here to watch the trailer for the collection, which includes archive footage of the COE rehearsing the symphonies with Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
To order your box-set, please click here:



The Chamber Orchestra of Europe and IDAGIO are delighted to announce their partnership as from 1st January 2020. IDAGIO is now the Official Audio Streaming Partner of COE and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe joins IDAGIO as Distinguished Partner.

Since its launch back in 2015 at the Salzburg Festival, IDAGIO has gone from strength to strength and by December 2019, more than 1.8 million subscribers had downloaded the IDAGIO app. IDAGIO has users in 190+ countries and is the global distribution platform for classical music recordings.

You can listen to most of the COE’s Beethoven recordings on our special IDAGIO playlist, created in celebration on Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

Congratulations to the winners of our Beethoven Competition who all won one of 10 IDAGIO premium vouchers! Symphony No. 4 proved to be the most popular.


Past concerts

Past Beethoven concerts

The COE has performed Beethoven with the world’s greatest conductors and soloists over the past 39 years:


Claudio Abbado ~ Roberto Abbado ~ Salvatore Accardo ~ Tom Adès ~ Paavo Berglund ~ Herbert Blomstedt ~ Frans Brüggen ~ Semyon Bychkov ~ Myung Whun Chung ~ Sir Colin Davis ~ Ivan Fischer ~ Sir John Eliot Gardiner ~ Carlo Maria Giulini ~ Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla ~ Bernard Haitink ~ Nikolaus Harnoncourt ~ Heinz Holliger ~ Philippe Jordan ~ James Judd ~ Vladimir Jurowski ~ Emmanuel Krivine ~ Lorin Maazel ~ Neville Marriner ~ Ingo Metzmacher ~ Kent Nagano ~ Yannick Nézet-Séguin ~ Sir Roger Norrington ~ Georges Prêtres ~ Jukka-Pekka Saraste ~ Alexander Schneider ~ Robin Ticciati ~ Michael Tilson-Thomas ~ Sandor Végh


Salvatore Accardo ~ Pierre-Laurent Aimard ~ Piotr Anderszewski ~ Martha Argerich ~ Vladimir Ashkenazy ~ Emanuel Ax ~ Cecilia Bartoli ~ Lisa Batiashvili ~ Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich ~ Frank Braley ~ Rudolf Buchbinder ~ Gautier Capuçon ~ Renaud Capuçon ~ Friedrich Gulda ~ Clemens Hagen ~ Janine Jansen ~ Leonidas Kavakos ~ Evgeny Kissin ~ Gidon Kremer ~ Cecile Licad ~ Radu Lupu ~ Viktoria Mullova ~ Murray Perahia ~ Francesco Piemontesi ~ Maria João Pires ~ Christian Poltera ~ Jean-Bernard Pommier ~ Sir András Schiff ~ Rudolf Serkin ~ Christian Tetzlaff ~ Stefan Vladar ~ Lars Vogt ~ Yuja Wang ~ Thomas Zehetmair ~ Frank Peter Zimmermann ~ Nikolaj Znaider

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