In his last at bat ever for the Boston Red Sox, the great Ted Williams hit a home run. In his last piano concerto, Ludwig van Beethoven did the same.

Beethoven began work on his final concerto in the fall of 1808 and completed the score at about the end of the following year. The first performance took place in Leipzig on November 28, 1811, with Friedrich Schneider as soloist. In the Piano Concerto No. 4, Beethoven made a striking break with convention in beginning the work with a piano solo. In the opening Allegro of No. 5, he takes this idea to an extreme, providing the soloist with an extended cadenza, punctuated by tutti chords from the orchestra, that outlines in miniature the entire 20-minute movement. This was Beethoven’s last foray into the concerto genre probably due to his impending deafness that forced him to end his career as a pianist.

Beethoven Piano Concerto No.5 in E Flat Major Opus 73
Mov't 1
Glenn Gould/American Symphony Orchestra/Leopold Stokowski
SONYM3k 52632

Mov't 2 Emanuel Ax/Royal Philharmonic ORchestra/Previn
RCA Classics 74321-17890-2

Mov't 3 Vladimir Horowitz/RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
Great pianists of the 20th Century 49