Meet the Oldest Beethoven Marathon Runner

Photos of the audience in Novi Sad, who ‘ran’ the Beethoven Marathon last week, really confirm the fact that quality classical music is loved, respected and gladly listened to in the European Capital of Culture. The Sunday reserved for the all-day marathon of Beethoven’s masterful symphonies gathered numerous visitors who enjoyed the performances of supreme musicians from morning to evening. A unique event in the world of classical music moved the programming and production boundaries in the country and the region, and one of the most important conductors of today, Gabriel Feltz, was entrusted with a not-so-simple undertaking – a whole day conducting the orchestras of the Dortmund and Belgrade Philharmonic, who joined forces with the Slovak Philharmonic Choir, as well as the four soloists from the Netherlands, Austria and the USA.

Thousands of People Sent a Message of Peace

The special oddity of this unique event in Europe was precisely the audience from Novi Sad, who followed the all-day programme in the City Concert Hall, and readily welcomed the finish of this marathon at the Petrovaradin Fortress, where the famous Ninth Symphony and Ode to Joy were performed. Not wishing to miss this unrepeatable event in the city of classical music, many thousands of people of different ages gathered at the Fortress and despite the summer heat, standing almost motionless, in peace and as befits an audience that lives culture, enthusiastically followed the concert performance of one of the greatest composers of all time. Through art and music, the people of Novi Sad together with supreme artists on stage sent a strong message of peace to the whole of Europe, in these challenging times when we really need peace.

The Oldest Marathon Runner

Our special attention was attracted by probably one of the oldest ‘marathon runners’, who attended all nine symphonies from morning to evening! Ninety-two-year-old Mirjana Mihalek, a retired music teacher, is a real example that culture in this city is carried in the heart, but also that (age) limits and other obstacles do not exist. Especially emphasizing the level of organization of the event, as well as the permission to get to the Fortress by car, granny Mirjana is extremely grateful that in Novi Sad, together with other visitors, she had a unique opportunity to listen to Beethoven and experience an unforgettable experience.

I am delighted and pleasantly surprised that the idea of this event was implemented in the European Capital of Culture. Although I didn’t get to see all the events, I experienced the Beethoven Marathon as a real treat and pleasure, because all the people of Novi Sad could hear it. Novi Sad deserves to have a programme like this’ – she pointed out and expressed her impressions from the Beethoven Marathon.

This former music teacher said that she has always been surrounded by music. Besides coming from a family where music was nurtured and passed down through the generations through teaching, her husband was one of the founders of the Musical Youth of Novi Sad. Her pedagogical work, as well as her long-term engagement as conductor of the KUD Svetozar Marković choir, marked her participation in numerous festivals, which she still fondly remembers today. Mirjana Mihalek revealed to us with a smile how the woman, who survived World War II as a girl, experiences the Ode to Joy.

Ode to Joy is something that gives a dose of optimism and faith that there can be beauty in this world, that not only accidents and war are the contents of our lives, and the ode is a reflection of the desire for beauty.’

Precisely because this, she is happy that she had a chance to be a part of the Fortress of Peace and, as she says, ‘real culture in Novi Sad’ – a unique Beethoven Marathon, which proved that people in this city accept and love classical music, and that Novi Sad really is – the European Capital of Culture.

Author: Marina Marić

Photo: Vladimir Veličković

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