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Verena Fulde

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Beethoven's 10th Symphony completed by AI. This is how it sounds

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  • Premiere: Three minutes of the final AI version 
  • Played by the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn and Cameron Carpenter
  • World premiere live in Bonn on October 9
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Comparison of the original sketches of Ludwig van Beethoven with the notes of the artificial intelligence.

The moment will finally arrive in October. One year after Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday, his 10th Symphony, which has been completed with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), will be making its highly anticipated premiere in the Telekom Forum in Bonn. A short sound clip that can be heard here gives listeners a first impression of the final composition. It was performed by the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn under the direction of conductor Dirk Kaftan with Cameron Carpenter at the organ.

After the first and still unready impressions from December 2019 and an excerpt from the status of the third movement in June of last year, this is the first insight into the final work. 

Beethoven-KI-Sinfonie-en

People and machines working hand in hand

To mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Deutsche Telekom organized a team of international music and AI experts in spring 2019 with the aim of completing Beethoven’s unfinished 10th Symphony with the help of AI. A hotly debated (even in specialist circles) experiment that was intended to answer the question of whether algorithms can be creative and replace people in the arts. 

The resulting composition will also surely be discussed by the public. Tim Höttges, Chairman of the Board of Management at Deutsche Telekom is convinced of this: “I believe that the result is something truly amazing because people and machines have created something new. But it’s important to see the result for what it is. Beethoven lived in his time. Beethoven lived in a society that was characterized by wars, by need but also by lots of love and empathy. No machine is able to do that today. However, the machine understands music and can develop it further but it cannot integrate the zeitgeist – the topic at hand if you like – into the music.”

The story of the 10th Symphony

Shortly before his death, Beethoven began working on a 10th Symphony, a work which was to remain unfinished. Under the leadership of Dr. Matthias Röder, Managing Director at the Karajan Institute, a group of AI experts and musicologists developed the “Beethoven AI”, which “understands” Beethoven’s style. The experts providing scientific guidance and supervision included Prof. Dr. Christine Siegert, head of the Beethoven-Haus research department.

The AI was not only “fed” with Beethoven’s compositions and his notes on the 10th Symphony; it was also provided with works from composers and musicians that demonstrably inspired and influenced Beethoven during his life such as Johann Sebastian Bach. Together with the experts, the algorithm continued Beethoven’s final, incomplete work. And composer Walter Werzowa, the musicians, and their conductor turned this notation into a living composition.

Experience the world premiere live 

The world premiere of the symphony will take place on October 9 in the Telekom Forum in Bonn. 

The premiere will be broadcast live and free of charge on MagentaMusik 360. 

BMG releases the album „Beethoven X – The AI Project” worldwide on October 8. October as CD and Stream/Download (also in Dolby Atmos) on all digital platforms.

About Deutsche Telekom: Deutsche Telekom at a glance

Die-Unvollendete-en

Beethoven's unfinished symphony

Telekom is venturing an experiment. A possible version of Beethoven's 10th symphony is to be composed using artificial intelligence.

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