The unfinished symphony: Beethoven’s 10th symphony gets completed with help of AI

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October 17, 2021 8:46 AM

The city, which the great composer made his home at the age of 22, paid special homage to music all though the year to mark its appreciation for the maestro.

Most of Beethoven's compositions are played in the classical music repertoire

Music lovers have another reason to enjoy live classical music at the State Opera, Musikverein, Konzerthaus, Volksoper and countless other great music venues in Vienna. Adding to the musical legacy of the city would be German composer Ludwig van Beethoven’s 10th Symphony. That’s because the mystery of the unfinished symphony is finally over.

Undoubtedly known for his musical legacy in the European capital of classical music, Beethoven had composed nine symphonies and began working on his tenth shortly before he died in 1827. Now close to 200 years after his death, the last and unfinished symphony, which could not be completed due to his worsening health, is complete. It is brought together by German telecom giant Telekom with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and a team of international musicologists and experts. The world premiere of Beethoven’s completed 10th symphony was held on October 9, live from the Telekom Forum in Bonn, Germany and live streamed on Magenta TV channel and on MegentaMusik 360. The symphony is released on BMG releases titled as Beethoven X – The AI Project.

His first major orchestral work, the first symphony, premiered in 1800, and his first set of string quartets was published in 1801. Despite his hearing deteriorating during this period, Beethoven continued to conduct, premiering his third and fifth symphonies in 1804 and 1808. The final orchestral composition, symphony No 9 in D minor, was debuted in 1824. In the later years of his life, Beethoven began work on the 10th symphony, which was remained unidentified for years.

Most of Beethoven’s compositions are played in the classical music repertoire, though the musician didn’t leave much behind, other than some musical notes ad a handful of ideas. Some of the musical sketches were deconstructed by historians, musicologists, composers and scientists to bring alive the 10th symphony alongside the composer’s vision.

It started in June 2019 when a team comprising Dr Matthias Roder, the director of the Karajan Institute, an organisation in Salzburg, Austria, who promotes music technology; with Austrian composer Walter Werzowa, known for writing Intel’s signature bong jingle; Mark Gotham, a computational music expert; and Robert Levin, a musicologist at Harvard University, put together his notes to decode this symphony.

“Beethoven intended to write his 10th symphony before he passed. His themes and motives were locked away for 200 years. Some of his sketches are so sparse, although genially written, that only specially developed AI could make sense with it. We unleashed new algorithms to respectfully and authentically continue Beethoven’s work,” says Austrian composer Walter Werzowa.

Creative AI process has transcribed the body of his works, sketches to create mesmerising symphonies, string quartets, and sonatas. This is one remarkable achievement of technological advancements like machine learning and artificial intelligence to offer the much needed interpretation of an original music or art piece.

There is no doubt that the classical music scene in Vienna is important to the life and times of music composers like Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss who lived, loved, composed and performed here. For instance, legendary music composer Beethoven, who not only settled in Vienna for over 35 years, often visited the city to meet the greatest living composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Another music jewel from the city was Johann Strauss, also known as the Waltz King, and a composer famous for his Vienna waltzes and operettas.

The city, which the great composer made his home at the age of 22, paid special homage to music all though the year to mark its appreciation for the maestro. The Austrian capital is a creative centre for the musical genius and the setting for the majority of his premieres. His rich musical legacy continues to thrive in all its vitality and variety in the world capital of music to this day.

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