Stephen Fry narrates Beethoven’s Prometheus

Published: 27 November 2020
Reporter: Vera Liber

Philharmonia Sessions - Jakub Hrůša conducts Dvorak Credit: Luca Migliore

On 4 December 2020, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen will present the final Philharmonia Session of 2020, filmed and recorded at Battersea Arts Centre, streamed via the Philharmonia’s YouTube channel.

Salonen will conduct the full ballet score of The Creatures of Prometheus, almost 250 years to the day since the composer's birth, which Beethoven wrote in 1801 in just 11 days. In the ballet, the gift of fire is interpreted as a metaphor for the civilizing power of science and the arts. Stephen Fry will narrate Gerard McBurney’s new script between each movement while motion designer Hillary Leben’s animations unfold on-screen.

Salonen said, "I find the juxtaposition of the 'old' and 'modern' art-form fascinating. If you think of the timeframe, Court dances were popular maybe 40 years before this piece was composed. They were still danced around 1800, but there was this transition, going from the very exclusive, narrowly-defined Court dancing to a more popular, more democratic way of looking at the idea of dance. The Contra dances were the vehicle for different social classes dancing together. That's a huge idea, that there is some kind of art or self-expression that allows people to forget their position on the ladder for once and dance together. At the end, there is a moment where the clay figures lead the aristocracy to dance. That's a profoundly revolutionary idea."