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Swiss orchestra uses AI to finish Beethoven’s 10th symphony

Swiss orchestra uses AI to finish Beethoven’s 10th symphony

Swiss orchestra uses AI to finish Beethoven’s 10th symphony

The Nexus Orchestra of Switzerland has performed an extract from Beethoven’s 10th symphony, a piece the composer never actually wrote. The musicians teamed up with researchers from the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) to finish the symphony using artificial intelligence.

Beethoven’s 10th symphony performed in Lausanne and Geneva 

Famously, Beethoven only wrote nine symphonies. When he died in 1827, he left only drafts and notes for a 10th composition. Fast forward nearly 200 years, and a team of musicologists and programmers at the EPFL have been training artificial intelligence to continue where Beethoven left off. The computer was played snippets from Beethoven's unfinished score, along with sections from his other works, to help it create a full score. 

Now complete, the symphony was performed this week alongside several other famous pieces by Rachmaninov and Brahms. Two free concerts, one in Geneva and the other in Lausanne, showcased the pieces for the first time. Conductor Guillaume Berney wanted the reconstructed piece to really "sound like Beethoven." 

Swiss conductor thinks AI technology has some way to go yet 

Though the algorithms used to derive the new score have Beethoven’s notes as a basis and a reference point, Berney still thinks the technology has some way to go before it can match a composer’s exact style. 

“This type of composition is based on probability and knowing, according to the style of the composer, which note will come after which note," Berney stated. The conductor added that though he thought the algorithm is not perfect, he also expressed excitement at the prospect of such new, innovative technology. 

The special performances were part of an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Nexus orchestra, which was previously known as the Young Professionals Orchestra of French-Speaking Switzerland. 

Emily Proctor

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Emily Proctor

Emily studied International Relations and Chinese, and is now undertaking Master's degree in International Security. She enjoys writing, cooking, and playing piano.

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