Contact: Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

Public Relations Manager

616.454.9451 x 139


Text Box: Contact: Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk
Public Relations Manager
616.454.9451 x 139





For Immediate Release


Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto welcomes guest pianist for Grand Rapids Symphony concert with guest conductor, March 18-19

GRAND RAPIDS, MI., March 2, 2016 – Ludwig van Beethoven had meant to give his Symphony No. 3 the title “Bonaparte” for Napoleon Bonaparte. But when the French general seized power and declared himself emperor, Beethoven angrily ripped the dedication off of the score of his “Eroica” or “Heroic” Symphony No. 3.

Five years later, as Vienna was under siege from Napoleon’s armies, leading Beethoven to take refuge in his brother’s cellar, the composer completed his fifth and final piano concerto. Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 5 soon became known as the “Emperor” concerto, only in this case, the nobleman was Austrian Archduke Rudolf, Beethoven’s patron as well as his pupil.

Grand Rapids Symphony performs Beethoven’s noble “Emperor” Piano Concerto at 8 pm Friday and Saturday, March 18-19 in DeVos Performance Hall. Guest pianist Martin Helmchen is the soloist.

The concerts in the Richard and Helen DeVos Classical Series welcome guest conductor Perry So, the seventh guest conductor of the 2015-16 season to DeVos Performance Hall. An inaugural Dudamel Conducting Fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Perry So is one of eight candidates to become the next GRS music director.


The native of Hong Kong also leads the orchestra in Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 2.


Martin Helmchen, winner of the 2001 Clara Haskil International Piano Competition at the age of 19, makes his Grand Rapids debut performing the Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. The German pianist has performed with leading orchestras throughout the world including the philharmonics of Berlin, London, Vienna and New York, as well as the symphony orchestras of Boston, San Francisco and Cleveland.


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Grand Rapids Symphony, “Beethoven’s Emperor” page 2        

Though Beethoven wrote his four earlier piano concertos for himself to perform, he composed his final piano concerto only after his hearing loss had ended his career as one of the greatest pianists of his day. Another of Beethoven’s pupils, Carl Czerny, gave the debut performance.

The music of Beethoven frequently appears on TV or in movies. Naturally, films such as Immortal Beloved use Beethoven’s music throughout. The 1994 film starring Gary Oldman as Beethoven uses the first three of the four movements of the “Emperor” Piano Concerto. Other films using the concerto include:

< >Dead Poets Society (1989) uses the 2nd movement in the film starring Robin Williams as an English teacherFearless (1993) uses the 3rd movement in the thriller starring Jeff Bridges as a man whose personality changes dramatically after an airplane crashTomorrow Never Dies (1997) uses the 2nd movement in the action film starring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond– more –



Grand Rapids Symphony, “Beethoven’s Emperor” page 3        


< >Upbeat, a free, pre-concert, multi-media presentation, with guest conductor Perry So, will be held before each performance at 7 p.m. in the DeVos Place Recital Hall. Upbeat is sponsored by BDO USA. “Beethoven’s Emperor” will be rebroadcast on Sunday, May 15 at 1 p.m. on Blue Lake Public Radio 88.9 FM or 90.3 FM.Ticketmaster at 800.982.2787, online at or in person at Ticketmaster outlets at select D&W Fresh Markets, Family Fare Stores and Walmart. Tickets purchased at these locations will include a Ticketmaster service fee.


Full-time students of any age are able to purchase tickets for only $5 on the night of the concert by enrolling in the GRS Student Passport program. This is a MySymphony360 eligible concert.

About the Grand Rapids Symphony
Organized in 1930, the Grand Rapids Symphony is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by Music Advisor Larry Rachleff, Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt and Associate Conductor John Varineau, nine concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are given each year, touching the lives of some 200,000, nearly half of whom are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities all reached through extensive education and community service programs. Affiliated organizations include the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus; Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra; and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses. GRS sponsors the biennial GRS sponsors the biennial Grand Rapids Bach Festival and provides the orchestra for performance by Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet. To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony, please visit the Grand Rapids Symphony’s website,

This activity is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.