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CLASSICAL | RPO's Beethoven Festival 

As Schroeder said to Lucy, "Beethoven is IT, clear and simple! Do you understand?" When it comes to the title of "King of Classical Music," Ludwig van Beethoven remains the heavyweight champion (Western European Division). This week and next, Ward Stare and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra salute Beethoven with programs featuring two of his works which, as they say, need no introduction. This Thursday and Saturday, popular soloist Olga Kern will perform in the "Emperor" piano concerto; next weekend, it's the Ninth Symphony, with four vocal soloists and the Eastman-Rochester Chorus in this ever-audacious work. And while you'll be there for the Beethoven, the other works on the programs are of more than passing interest. This week features Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" as orchestrated by several arrangers, from Ravel to Leopold Stokowski. Next week the Ninth is prefaced by the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde," still the most sensual beginning and ending devised for any opera. There are free discussions about the music, beginning one hour before each concert, in Kodak Hall.

The RPO will perform Beethoven's "Emperor" on Thursday, November 9, and Saturday, November 11; and the Ninth Symphony on Thursday, November 16, and Saturday, November 18. All performances in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, 60 Gibbs Street. Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 8 p.m. $24-$104. rpo.org.

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