Beethoven concerts are the legacy of a West Sussex musician two years after her death

The founder of the Arundel-based Hanover band will be celebrating Beethoven’s 250th anniversary – two years after her own death.

Caroline Brown
Caroline Brown

When cellist Caroline Brown was diagnosed with a rare cancer, she refused to sit back and accept her fate. Instead, she set about organising a series of concerts and events to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth despite knowing she wouldn’t be around to see them herself.

In the years before her death in 2018, she planned the concerts in meticulous detail.

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They will showcase all nine of Beethoven’s famous symphonies throughout 2020. Coincidentally, they also mark The Band’s own 40th anniversary celebrations.

Stephen Neiman, orchestra managing director and Caroline’s husband, who lives in Brighton, said: “Caroline wasn’t one to wallow in her own self-pity and she very much wanted to do something positive in the time she had left.

“She was always jotting ideas down in notebooks and worked right until the very end. For one planned operation, she was first on the surgical list and she actually asked the doctors to move her to the end of the list for that day because she was busy doing research and didn’t want to interrupt it.

“That was just how Caroline was. She was very determined to do things her way.”

Caroline, a mother-of-two, was a graduate of The Royal College of Music. She was single-minded in her desire to seek out and record the earliest and most authentic versions of Beethoven’s symphonies and was a driving force in the world of classical and baroque music.

Stephen said: “Music was Caroline’s life. From an early age she was captivated. Even when the temporary presence of a stoma bag stopped her playing her beloved cello, she just got on with it, instructing others and throwing her energies into the orchestra.

“Beethoven and his contemporaries would not have expected to hear their music in the vast, cavernous concert halls of today. Instead they would have experienced more intimate settings with music enthusiasts chatting and enjoying a beer, or even a meal, throughout the performance.

“Caroline wanted to bring that authenticity to the 250th celebrations. She also wanted to create something spectacular to mark our own anniversary too, so it seemed fitting that she should marry the two together.”

The Hanover Band will play all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies in livery halls around London during 2020. The year-long Beethoven In The City programme is part of the band’s wider celebrations to mark the famous composer’s 250th birthday.

Stephen said: “Beethoven In The City was absolutely the brainchild of Caroline, she planned the concerts, she spearheaded our work to encourage the next generation of players and her influence continues to be felt throughout the orchestra. I am merely putting her plans into action. Playing all nine symphonies at different venues across London is certainly a fitting tribute both to Beethoven and to Caroline.”

The first concert was on March 2 at Stationer’s Hall, London, with Symphony No.4. A further seven concerts will follow with the finale, Beethoven’s famous 9th (Choral) Symphony, being performed at Mansion House on December 16 – Beethoven’s official birthday.

As part of the year-long programme, the Hanover Band is also teaching youth orchestras around Manchester and the south how to play Beethoven and will be offering free tickets to anyone under 30 who wishes to come to the London concerts to encourage younger generations to experience classical music.

Stephen added: “Caroline was passionate about Beethoven, and she was also determined to pass on that love of music.”