The Beethoven Symphonies: Aging or Ageless?

Pre-registration: Use the Google form below to let us know which Toronto Pursuits seminar you would like to pre-register for. Please choose only one seminar.

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Toronto Pursuits and COVID-19: We expect to formally open registration and collect deposits early in 2022, once we get more information from the University of Toronto. See the main Toronto Pursuits page for more details.

We do have a variety of online seminars running now, with new groups starting regularly. Thank you for your patience!




Rick Phillips spent 30 years in the Music Department of CBC Radio, 14 of them as the host and producer of SOUND ADVICE, the weekly guide to classical music and recordings heard across Canada. Now he’s a busy writer, reviewer, speaker, teacher, music tour host and seminar leader at Toronto Pursuits. Rick has long loved the nine symphonies by Beethoven—how they capture Beethoven’s pivotal period in history at the start of the 19th century, and what they can mean to us today, two centuries later.


No advance reading or listening is required; but Rick encourages you to read any biography of Beethoven.

The nine symphonies by Beethoven are the most famous and frequently-performed symphonies ever composed, and they are often likened to other masterpieces in the world of art, like the plays of Shakespeare, the paintings of Rembrandt or the sculpture of Michelangelo. But how well do you really know them?

Beethoven was a child of the French Revolution, steeped in the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, and his symphonies illustrate and reflect these sociopolitical concepts that were sweeping Europe as the Romantic Age burgeoned. He wrote them over a period of about 25 years in the early decades of the 19th century. What makes them so loved and revered, and what can they communicate to us today, 200 years later? How and why did his conception of the symphony evolve as he grew older and his world changed around him? What were the influences on Beethoven, and how did his symphonies influence those who came after him?

In this seminar, using a variety of legendary recordings by top orchestras and conductors, we will delve into these nine musical masterpieces to uncover Beethoven’s powerful skills and methods of communication and expression. You do not need to read or write music to participate in and enjoy this seminar.


The cost of Toronto Pursuits registration will be announced shortly. Registration includes one seminar Monday to Friday, morning coffee and newspapers, five buffet lunches, afternoon speakers, a five-day opera lecture series, film screenings, guided walks, two cocktail receptions, and a range of other cultural and social activities. All costs are subject to the 13% Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).

See Registration and Cancellation Policy at


ONE per registrant

  • Participants who have attended Toronto Pursuits at least five times receive a C$215 discount.
  • Register with a friend, and if one or both are first-time participants, each receives a C$215 discount.


You are responsible for booking your own accommodation. Click here for more information.

Stratford Shakespeare Festival Weekend

We expect to have more information about the Stratford Festival Weekend in early 2022.


Additional information


Concert ticket, Not eligible for discount, Five times, With friend, Gift registration