A World Without Beethoven? | Music Documentary with Sarah Willis (full length)


“What would the world be like without Beethoven?” That’s the provocative question posed by this music documentary from Deutsche Welle. To answer it, the film explores how Ludwig van Beethoven’s innovations continue to have an impact far beyond the boundaries of classical music, 250 years after his birth.

What would be missing from jazz or from film music, for example, if Beethoven had never created his many innovations? Would the concert business exist as we know it today? And how has it changed the role of the artist?

Sarah Willis, horn player with the Berlin Philharmonic, sets out on an entertaining and informative journey in search of answers. She meets people from around the world – musicians, managers and even politicians – to follow the traces of Beethoven’s influence.

Sarah’s journey begins with the most famous four notes of classical music and their immense influence on pop music. “It all started with Beethoven,” says Scorpions guitarist Rudolf Schenker about the preeminent role the composer’s influence has played in the development of the rock riff. Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) speculates: “Maybe he just spilled his coffee and it happened to become ‘Da-da-da-dum.'” Jazz trumpeter and Grammy winner Wynton Marsalis explains what Beethoven’s last string quartet (No. 16, Op. 135) has to do with the rhythm of jazz. “Star Wars” film composer and multiple Oscar winner John Williams praises Beethoven as the master of sounds that create images. And pianist and composer Gabriela Montero adds, “His music is valid at all times.”


(00:01:42) No Rock Riffs Without Beethoven?
(00:13:13) No Concert Business Without Beethoven?
(00:26:22) No Political Music Without Beethoven?
(00:38:08) No Concept Albums Without Beethoven?
(00:53:33) No Movie Soundtracks Without Beethoven?
(01:04:20) No Precise Tempo Without Beethoven?
(01:12:45) No Jazz Without Beethoven?


Sarah Willis

With appearances from:
Ian Anderson (Instrumentalist, Singer and Composer)
Thomas Angyan (Director Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde 1988 – 2020)
Billy Bragg (Singer-Songwriter)
Clive Gillinson (Executive and Artistic Director Carnegie Hall)
Matthias Goerne (Baritone)
Alexander Hoetzinger (Music Producer and Drummer)
Paavo Järvi (Conductor)
Norbert Lammert (President of the German Bundestag 2005 – 2017)
Jan Lisiecki (Pianist)
Katie Mahan (Pianist)
Wynton Marsalis (Trumpeter and Director Jazz at Lincoln Center)
Gabriela Montero (Pianist and Composer)
Gaby Moreno (Singer-Songwriter)
Van Dyke Parks (Composer and Arranger)
Rudolf Schenker (Guitarist)
Johanna Staemmler (Violonist)
John Williams (Composer)
Horst Wittner (Managing Director Wittner GmbH & Co. KG)

Martin Roddewig

Mary Jane's Garden - Get Ready For Spring 250x250

Hans Christoph von Bock
Susanne Lenz-Gleissner

Executive Producer
Rolf Rische

A production of
Bernhard Fleischer Moving Images BFMI

Commissioned by
Deutsche Welle


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