Saturday, July 30, 2011

35 Complete Sets of Beethoven Symphonies on Spotify

Recordings are sorted chronologically, click links below for reviews:

Weingartner 1927-38, Furtwangler 1942-44,  Furtwangler 1948-54,  Scherchen 1951-54, Karajan 1951-1955, Toscanini 1950s,  Jochum 1950s, Krips late 1950s, Szell 1957-67,  Walter 1958-63, Karajan 1963, Bernstein 1960s, Jochum, 1967-69, Solti, early 1970s, Bernstein 1970s, Karajan, 1975-77, Ferencsik 1970s, Hogwood, 1980s,  Wand 1985-88, Muti 1980-1992, Karajan mid-1980s, Abbado 1986, Solti 1986-89, Masur late 1980s - early 1990s Harnoncourt 1991, Gardiner 1994, Haitink 1990s, Davis 1990s, Barenboim 1999, Abbado 2000, Abbado 2001, Hickox, 2004, Nelson 2006, Pletnev 2007, Tremblay 2010, Krivine 2011.

Spotify is silently making huge progress on converting their library to 320 kbps, 27 of the 34 sets (one is not available in the UK)  are already available in HQ. See log file here.

Here's the Spotify playlist: Beethoven Symphonies Box-sets (35 tracks, total time: 9 hours). It features the opening movement of the Eroica symphony from every set. Use Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse.

I left out some low-budget, outdated recordings, there's no point to spend time on them when you can get most of the other "full price" recordings on Spotify. There's also numerous individual recordings of outstanding Beethoven symphony performances on Spotify, like Kleiber's 7th and Casals' 8th, but we cannot include them here in this index for complete sets.

For American users, only 17 sets are currently available in your place, please uncheck "Hide unplayable tracks" in preferences if you want to browse the full list.

Lastly, a great free ebook: On the performance of Beethoven's symphonies (1900) by Weingartner.


  1. There's also the recent period set from Krivine on Naive


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  2. Thanks! That's actually the one I've been listening to recently, fresh and punchy:)

  3. Very nice - thanks for taking the time to do this

  4. Hi,

    I am currently testing Spotify Free, and pondering whether to pay for premium. The breadth of the catalogue is not bad (though far from impressive), but I am concerned about no gapless playback, difficult searching due to poor search engone and poor tagging. The most important thing that makes me withhold my decision is that quite often an album is present on Spotify, but many of the tracks are not because "The artist/label has chosen to make this track unavailable. If you have the file on your computer you can import it".

    One example is Gardiner's set of Beethoven Symphonies, mentioned by you. Does it mean that these tracks are disabled only for Free users, that all track available on Unlimited/Premium service?

  5. The greyed out tracks are due to licensing issues in the USA, and not a restriction on free users. In the European version, most of the albums are available in full.

    And currently the European version also has more classical recordings than the USA, to me it's very impressive, six complete sets of Bach cantatas, Lachenmann string quartets and all 36 sets of Grateful Dead's Dick's Picks.

    More about searching:

  6. Thanks. I think I'll wait until they sort it out. Or maybe I'll move back to Europe.

    It is hard to understand why only certain tracks of an album are licensed in the US, but who can understand all these music licensing issues :-(

    Thanks for the hints on searching.

  7. Regarding "Spotify is silently making huge progress on converting their library to 320 kbps" - could you write a quick blog entry about this? I would be interested in why this is now happening, after seemingly no action for so long.
    Also, do you know of a way to detect which tracks are 320kbps on a PC? That would be very useful indeed.

  8. Stephen, see this comment for how to detect the bitrates on PC.

    And as an outsider I don't really know the reason for the change, maybe they will release an official statement when they think the time is right.

  9. Added Simon Rattle's cycle on EMI (2003), amazon reviews:

  10. Added Gustav Kuhn's cycle on Col legno (2006):

    But disk 2 and 3 are the same, so Eroica is actually Symphony No.2.

  11. Added Bruno Walter's 1941-53 cycle:

  12. New additions:

    Norrington (1986-1988)

    Drahos (mid-1990s)


    Chailly (2011)

  13. Added Thielemann's new cycle, released Nov. 27, 2011 in Europe and Jan. 2nd, 2012 in the US. It on five albums and has not yet been grouped into a box-set, but it's too important to be omitted.

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