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When Beethoven took up the challenge of creating cello music for the king, he was entering territory where no contemporary was setting foot

ClassicTalk with George Hamilton

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Irish cellist Ailbhe McDonagh

Irish cellist Ailbhe McDonagh

John O'Conor

John O'Conor

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Irish cellist Ailbhe McDonagh

Midway through this Beethoven year - the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth falls in December - there's news of an initiative on the part of two eminent Irish musicians to shine a spotlight on one distinctive area of his work.

John O'Conor, world renowned as a Beethoven specialist - described by the Washington Post as "a pianist with the kind of flawless touch that makes an audience gasp" - and international concert cellist and composer Ailbhe McDonagh are teaming up in August to record his five cello sonatas.

Music specifically for the cello wasn't on Beethoven's agenda when he arrived in Vienna just before his 22nd birthday in 1792. He found a room with Prince Karl Lichnowsky, a local aristocrat and leading patron of the arts.