All that the German composer Ludwig van Beethoven has left are a few notes written in his notebook. It is a great regret to have seen the last, great work unfinished due to his death in 1827.
Now a team of musicologists and programmers are racing to complete Beethoven's Tenth Symphony (or at least a possible version of it) using artificial intelligence, ahead of the 250th anniversary of his birth next year.
"Progress has been impressive, even if the computer still has a lot to learn", says Christine Siegert, responsible for the archives of Beethoven House in the hometown of the composer of Bonn.
Siegert said she was "convinced" that Beethoven would approve since he too was an innovator at the time. He cited his compositions for the Panharmonicon, a type of organ that reproduces the sounds of wind and percussion instruments. He insisted that AI work will not affect his legacy because it will never be considered part of his work.
The final result of the project will be performed by a full orchestra on April 28 next year in Bonn. It will be a key event in the celebrations for a composer who defined the romantic era of classical music.
"It's a completely new territory"Said Dirk Kaftan. It is the conductor of the orchestra who will perform the opera.
Unfinished Beethoven, the concerns of fellow citizens
Beethoven, Germany's most famous musical figure, is loved in his homeland and the critics of the project are concerned about protecting Beethoven's legacy.
The "national duty" to prepare for the anniversary was even written into a right-left coalition deal to form a deal six years ago.
The year of celebrations officially begins on December 16, considered to be his 249th birthday.
But a press preview Friday at the Beethoven House Museum in his hometown of Bonn following a refurbishment offered insights into his genius, including the notebooks he used to fill out after he went deaf in 1801, a full 26 years before his death. .
Ninth and Tenth symphony, monumental masterpieces by Beethoven
Beethoven began to work on the tenth symphony together with his ninth, the one that includes the famous "Ode to Joy".
The works, however, have never seen the light together: of the Tenth Symphony the composer left only incomplete drafts when he died at the age of 57.
In the project, the machine learning software has been trained with all Beethoven's work and is now composing possible completions of the symphony in the composer's style.
Deutsche Telekom, which sponsors the project, hopes to use the results to develop technologies such as speech recognition.
Tenth symphony by Beethoven: artificial intelligence, musical ear
The team involved in the project said that the first results of a few months ago were considered too mechanical and repetitive, but AI is rapidly honing its skills. The next generation will be perfect.
Barry Cooper, British composer and musicologist who in 1988 wrote a hypothetical first movement for the Tenth Symphony is more doubtful.
"I listened to a short excerpt created byartificial intelligence. It didn't even remotely sound like a convincing reconstruction of what Beethoven meant ", Cooper said. He is to be trusted, as he is an eminent Professor at Manchester University and the author of numerous works on Beethoven.
The room for improvement
Similar artificial intelligence experiments based on works by Bach, Mahler and Schubert did not make a miracle cry.
Earlier this year, a project was presented to complete Schubert's unfinished eighth symphony. For some reviewers it was closer to the soundtrack of an American film than to the work of the German composer.
Time to time: the AI travels at impressive speed. Beethoven's Tenth Symphony may soon have an ending as well.