The season-long festival, titled "Beethoven Unbound," will pair the symphonies with commissioned pieces by Magnus Lindberg and Anders Hillborg, as well as contemporary works by Hentri Dutilleux, Olivier Knussen, and Gy‹rgy Ligeti. It begins on September 30.
"There is no real stylistic or aesthetic line between [the commissioned composers] and Beethoven because the distance in time is already so great," music director Esa-Pekka Salonen told the Times. "A good enough criterion is that these are very, very good composers. They know which symphonies they are going to be paired with. And if they choose to relate to that somehow, that's up to them, but we didn't make that a condition by any means."
The Beethoven focus will also include all of Beethoven's string quartets, performed by the Juilliard and Emerson string quartets. The Philharmonic will announce the remainder of its season plans next month.
The Philadelphia Orchestra also plans a complete cycle of the Beethoven symphonies in 2005-06, and has also chosen to program them with contemporary music.