The Prometheus Project was a special festival of concerts presented as the grand finale of The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2017-18 Centennial Season. It culminated in a series of performances on three continents, of all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies along with important overtures — in Cleveland, in Vienna, and in Tokyo.
On one hand, this was a celebration of Beethoven’s genius, paired with the incomparable artistry of The Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst’s direction. But it was also Franz showing us how he approaches great musical works — asking us to re-examine music we think we know by looking at it in the context of its time and in the context of what it means today.
Prometheus was an important figure in Greek mythology. He was descended from the gods, but chose to disobey them in order to give humanity the gift of fire. As a metaphor across the centuries, that spark of fire came to symbolize many things: fire itself (for cooking and heating), as well as the spark of wisdom and learning, for making discoveries, for inspiration, and for the idea of advancing society forward for the common good. He became a symbol for making personal choices, as individuals and to help others. In Beethoven’s view, Prometheus represented the “fight for good” — advocating for justice, truth, equality, and individual freedom.