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Las Vegas Celebrates Beethoven's 250th Birthday

<p>German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827), painted by Kloeber circa 1805.</p>
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827), painted by Kloeber circa 1805.

This is a big year for Beethoven fans.

Orchestras around the world have concerts planned to mark the 250th anniversary of the birth of the composer.

In Las Vegas, UNLV's College of Fine Arts has put together a series of concerts over two-years to celebrate Beethoven's birthday.

The series of concerts were funded by the Investment Council Company and run through May 1.

“This is a different project. It’s a unique project and I think, and I think others think as well, that our community is ready for something like this. When you think of Beethoven and the masterfulness of the compositions that he wrote, I invite and encourage everyone to form their own opinion," said Randy Garcia, president of the Investment Council Company, “I can tell you, listening to Beethoven is one experience but hearing it performed live and watching the technical expertise of those musicians that is a different unique experience."

Nancy Uscher is the dean of UNLV's College of Fine Arts. She said the project came together through the hard work of many people.

Uscher said the concerts, so far, have been well attended with people of all ages enjoying the works of the great composer.

“Beethoven’s music is timeless," she said, "It is as relevant, if not more relevant, now than it was 250 years ago. It’s resilient. It’s brilliant and this opportunity also to perform the music both in the university and in the external community and make it incredibly accessible because it's all free, gives families and our community a chance to enjoy the arts in a way that is deeply important.”

While the music of Beethoven is something most people have heard dozens of times in various versions, Uscher said the musicians who worked on the project have created bold versions of the composers already innovative works.

“What I’m hoping people get out is to feel excited about life... and themselves feeling bold by listening to this music,” she said.

Uscher said she wants people to take seriously how important music and the arts, in general, are in people's lives.

Garcia wants the concert to open minds around the valley.

“I hope that it opens their minds in terms of what is possible and encourages them, invites them to try to listen, to think about other experiences like Beethoven and beyond,” he said.

Randy Garcia, president, Investment Council Company; Nancy Uscher, dean, UNLV College of Fine Arts.​

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(Editor's note: Chris Sieroty no longer works for Nevada Public Radio)