Artificial Intelligence Completes Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony

Ludwig von Beethoven’s previously unfinished work on his Tenth Symphony has finally been completed with the help of artificial intelligence. Following this, the work will premiere in Bonn, Germany, on October 9, 2021.

Beethoven’s death in 1827 left his Tenth Symphony incomplete due to his deteriorating condition. While the composer completed what is touted as his magnum opus, known as the Ninth Symphony, the remaining Tenth Symphony commissioned work by the London Royal Philharmonic Society failed to be finished.

According to TechSpot, the Tenth Symphony only consisted of some musical sketches, notes, and ideas for what Beethoven planned for his final work.

Artificial Intelligence Beethoven’s Tenth Symphony

While there have been efforts in the past to reconstruct the artist’s Tenth Symphony, The Conversation notes that it is impossible to recreate and go beyond movements due to the lack of notes and ideas in the sketches left behind by Beethoven.

Through the use of artificial intelligence, however, the completion of the Tenth Symphony is now possible. Responsible for the work’s completion is the Karajan Institute and scientists from Playform, an artificial intelligence startup, notes TechSpot. The project is headed by Ahmed Elgammal.

The efforts of reconstructing and achieving the eventual outcome took approximately two years, with the project starting in early 2019, notes The Conversation.

The team consists of Walter Werzowa, an Austrian composer, as well as computational music expert Mark Gotham, brought together by the director of the Karajan Institute Dr. Matthias Röder. Alongside these experts, the team also worked with Harvard University musicologist Robert Levin.

Werzowa was in charge of merging the magic of AI and the musical sketches left by Beethoven. Meanwhile, TechSpot notes that Gotham headed the transcription of sketches and processes involved in making Beethoven’s music to help train the algorithms that were needed by the AI.

Elgammal, the lead computer scientist, said in his piece through The Conversation that the team resulted to “[using] notes and completed compositions from Beethoven’s entire body of work – along with the available sketches from the 10th Symphony – to create something that Beethoven himself might have written.”

To make the work come to life, Elgammal explained that they had to undergo different processes, including teaching the machine in question to receive short phrases or motifs and use these to create more complex structures similar to what Beethoven had already created. The team also tested the success of their creation by challenging listeners to identify where AI was used.

Following the premiere on October 9, 2021, the recording will also be released on the same day, reports TechSpot. In addition, the recording will be made available to the public the next day, October 10, 2021.