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Giants-Series: Ludwig van Beethoven

14th September 2020, 00.35 am, ZDF
17th September 2020, 1.15 pm, 3sat

A Docudrama by Gero von Boehm

He was a genius, he was unbelievably passionate about his feelings and he was constantly fighting against his fate. As a gigantic creator of inimitable music he wrote sonatas, concerts, symphonies and an opera. His ninth symphony with the hymn “Ode to Joy” is probably the most popular piece of music of all times and made Ludwig van Beethoven a legend worldwide.
The film from the series “Giants” with Uwe Ochsenknecht as Ludwig van Beethoven tells the story of the composer during his years in Vienna, which for him end up to be both, heaven and hell. There he celebrates his greatest triumphs and lives his greatest personal defeats. When he slowly starts to become deaf at the age of 28, he is on the verge of losing his footing. He starts to think about suicide and makes his famous “Heiligenstädter” will, an affecting prove of desperation which he defeats with the help of his volition.
About twenty years later, he is completely deaf and he can only communicate with his fellow men in writing. Which pain does he have to go through during his years as a musician and conductor? What causes Beethoven’s anacousia? Why surfaces the giant of his music exactly in those years? Is it an escape into the empire of music?
The dramatic life of Beethoven is also embossed by the unsatisfying and unrequited love to several women – his “Letters to the Immortal Beloved” are part of the most affecting declarations of love that have been found posthumous. Today, experts still wonder who was the great anonymous addressee of the letters. Was it Josephine von Brunswick or maybe Antonie Brentano? And are their sons and daughters – born out of wedlock – Beethoven’s children? By the end of his life Beethoven is marked by his diseases and retires from the world more and more. He is galled by people easily and regards them with suspicion. His nephew Karl, who is like a son to him, has to bear the depressive and euphoric moods of his uncle.
Along with Uwe Ochsenknecht, in Gero von Boehm’s film also act Maria Simon, Anna Clarin and Mirko Lang. In the documental part Isabella Rossellini, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Klaus Maria Brandauer and Kurt Masur speak about their impressions.