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Beethoven: The Man and His Symphonies

“Symphonies are the best representation of my true self. I always seem to hear within me the sounds of a great orchestra.” — Ludwig van Beethoven


Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the most influential composers of all time. Although he struggled with poor health, deafness and periods of despair, he wrote some of the most powerful music the world has experienced. Beethoven was particularly renowned for his symphonies, which were so extraordinary that many of his contemporary composers felt there was nothing left for them to say. Participants in this course will examine how Ludwig became Beethoven the musical legend and why his symphonies have had such a lasting impact. Carlos Andrés Botero, the Houston Symphony’s dynamic new musical ambassador and assistant conductor, will serve as a guide. He is joined by musicologist Nancy Gisbrecht Bailey, Ph.D., along with musicians from the Houston Symphony. The class will conclude with a private rehearsal of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Jones Hall including a pre-performance tour and commentary.

Note: Participants will receive a special discount on tickets for the Houston Symphony’s “Three Weeks of Beethoven.”

Co-Sponsor: The Houston Symphony

Course Details

Section Dates: Five Wednesdays, February 17-March 16, 7-8:30 p.m. (Class on March 16 meets at Jones Hall and will begin at 6:30 p.m.)
Fee: If registering by February 3: $185 After February 3: $195 For Rice alumni: $176
CEUs: 0.9

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Course Schedule

FEBRUARY 17. The Unknown Beethoven: The Journey from Ludwig to Beethoven the Legend. Nancy Gisbrecht Bailey, Ph.D., with Carlos Andrés Botero.
FEBRUARY 24. The Chamber Music: Performance and Commentary. Carlos Andrés Botero and a Houston Symphony string quartet.
MARCH 2. Beethoven and the Human Voice: Performance and Commentary. Carlos Andrés Botero and a singer and accompanist from the Houston Symphony.
MARCH 9. Eroica: Beethoven’s Third Symphony and First Masterpiece. Carlos Andrés Botero.
MARCH 16. Private Rehearsal, Tour and Commentary at Jones Hall. Carlos Andrés Botero and the Houston Symphony.


Carlos Andrés Botero is musical ambassador and assistant conductor for the Houston Symphony. He first came to the Symphony in 2014 to serve as co-host of “Musically Speaking with Andrés.” He works closely with Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada in the preparation of repertoire and commentary delivered from the stage. He also serves as cover conductor for all classical subscription programs and leads the Symphony’s “Prelude” pre-concert talks before each classical performance. Originally from Medellin, Colombia, Mr. Botero serves as orchestra consultant, music education lecturer, guest conductor and string clinician with first level orchestras in the Americas, including the Colombian Youth Philharmonic and the Houston Symphony.

Nancy Gisbrecht Bailey, Ph.D., has taught at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies for more than 25 years and for the Master of Liberal Studies program since 2008. She has lectured for the Women’s Institute, Houston Ballet, the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Dr. Bailey holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Redlands and an M.A. and Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Southern California.