Meant to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven in 2020, the Beethoven Day produced by tv channel ARTE Concert took place one year later, last June 6. Over one day, Beethoven’s nine symphonies were performed and broadcast in chronological order from different venues in Europe.

Sasha Waltz & Guests, Beethoven 7th in Delphi, temple of Apollo, ST set design magazine
Sasha Waltz & Guests, Beethoven 7th in Delphi, temple of Apollo | © Sasha Waltz & Guests / World Human Forum

The seventh symphony was performed in Delphi, Greece, at the ancient theatre within the Panhellenic sanctuary of Apollo.

Sasha Waltz & Guests created a new choreography to accompany the musical performance by the musicAeterna orchestra directed by Teodor Currentzis.

Sasha Waltz & Guests, Beethoven 7th in Delphi, temple of Apollo, ST set design magazine
Sasha Waltz & Guests, Beethoven 7th in Delphi, temple of Apollo | © Sasha Waltz & Guests / World Human Forum

Eleven dancers performed the choreography, inspired by ancient rituals and processions, at different spots within the sacred precinct, around the temple of Apollo, and in the theatre’s orchestra.

Sasha Waltz & Guests, Beethoven 7th in Delphi, temple of Apollo, ST set design magazine
Sasha Waltz & Guests, Beethoven 7th in Delphi, temple of Apollo | © Sasha Waltz & Guests / World Human Forum

The temple delimited the scenographic space for the Allegretto movement on one side and the altar of the Chians on the other, with dancers spatially and visually interacting with the temple’s crepidoma and re-erected Doric columns from the 4th century BCE.

Dance and music have a rich history of performances at Delphi’s sanctuary. Since the 6th century BCE, the sacred site was the venue of the Pythian Games, second to importance only to the Olympic games.

Originally a musical contest in honor of Apollo, the games included artistic competitions of dance, acting, and instrumental performances that took place in the theatre.

Sasha Waltz & Guests, Beethoven 7th in Delphi, temple of Apollo, ST set design magazine
Sasha Waltz & Guests, Beethoven 7th in Delphi, temple of Apollo | © Sasha Waltz & Guests / World Human Forum

As the whole sanctuary, the theatre was abandoned in late antiquity and brought back to light with major excavations started at the end of the 19th century. Since then, very few performances have taken place at the site, making this occasion even more special.

The performance is available for view on ARTE until September 4, 2021 → ARTE Concert – Symphony No. 7 in A major