Portuguese Philharmonic Orchestra and João Bettencourt da Câmara
Symphonic Concert
Alcobaça Monastery · Fence
July 31, 2020
The joy of living

The Japanese call it ikigai, the philosopher-poet Horace called it carpe diem in Ancient Rome, the French describe it as joie de vivre and the philosopher Epicurus even founded a school of thought that came to be known by his name. Basically, they all talk about more or less the same thing. And in the 18th century, the composer Ludwig van Beethoven took Friedrich Schiller's poem and the teachings of so many others and gave shape to these feelings and ways of being in life in what is one of the most recognisable works of all time: Ode to Joy. In the year that marked the 500th anniversary of the composer's birth, the Portuguese Philharmonic Orchestra performed at Cistermúsica playing works by this timeless German artist. And joy overflowed through the streets of the city.

It overflowed inside the Monastery, in the corridors, out in the open, nearer or further away, and even leaped out from behind the masks. And even with the mask on, the eyes do not hide genuine joy.

Often we don't remember what happened, but what we felt when something happened. In this case, I can't say I remember exactly what happened in this concert, but I remember the joy. And I remembered that feeling through these photographs (and why - but not only! - that photography is such an appealing and interesting art).

And better than a good experience, only a good shared experience.

Watch a clip of the show

To commemorate the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven's birth, the Portuguese Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Osvaldo Ferreira, presented two of the most emblematic works of this great composer: the Fifth Symphony, famous for the rhythm of its first bars, and the Fifth Piano Concerto, also known as the "Emperor", the last of the concertos for piano and orchestra composed by the genius born at Bonn. At the piano was one of the most representative Portuguese pianists of his generation, João Bettencourt da Câmara.

“It was very important that Cistermúsica was not cancelled. Long live the festival!”

Osvaldo Ferreira
Conductor of the Portuguese Philharmonic Orchestra

“I'm glad the organisation decided to carry out the festival, it would have been a very big loss not to have done it this year.”

Américo Rodrigues
Director-General for the Arts / Ministry of Culture


“Alcobaça is the centre of music in Portugal! (...) This great interpretation of Beethoven was so alive that it reproduced a music that was in a certain way revolutionary and visionary. And Alcobaça is also that: avant-garde, revolutionary and visionary.”

Nuno Rogeiro
Political Analyst and Cistermúsica Enthusiast