The Beethoven symphonies will be performed over the course of the season, paired with the Higdon, Sheng, and Kellogg premieres and contemporary works by Henri Dutilleux and Magnus Lindberg in order to emphasize their continued impact.
"The struggle for nobility, for liberty and human dignity embodied in Beethoven's music inspires us as strongly as ever, and the pure joy it expresses still goes straight to our hearts," music director Christoph Eschenbach said in a statement. "But this season we want to take him out of the classical box and show him as the revolutionary and visionary he was."
Other highlights of the season include a three-week visit in February 2006 from conductor Simon Rattle, a regular collaborator with the orchestra. Among other works, Rattle, the music director of the Berlin Philharmonic, will lead the Gubaidulina world premiere, a yet-to-be-titled work co-commissioned with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Mezzo-soprano Magdelena Kozenš, making her Philadelphia Orchestra debut, and pianist Alfred Brendel will appear as guest soloists during Rattle's residency.
Former music director Wolfgang Sawallisch will lead the orchestra for five weeks in March and April 2006, conducting concerts with violinist Christian Teztlaff and pianists Garrick Ohlsson and Rudolf Buchbinder.
Other guest conductors include Charles Dutoit, Yuri Temirkanov, Peter Oundjian, and Osmo V‹nsk‹. Among the soloists on the schedule are pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Midori, baritone Thomas Hampson, countertenor David Daniels, and saxophonist Branford Marsalis.
The orchestra debuts its new pipe organ in May 2006 with a series of concerts featuring organist Olivier Latry and featuring the world premiere of a new work for organ and orchestra by Gerald Levinson.