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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June, 2005, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
700,000 download Beethoven music
Ludwig Van Beethoven
The influential composer combined traditional and innovative elements
Nearly 700,000 listeners of BBC Radio 3 downloaded live performances of Beethoven's first five symphonies, with number one proving the most popular.

The music was performed as part of The Beethoven Experience on Radio 3 and free downloads were available for a week-long trial.

The pieces were performed by the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester.

Roger Wright, Radio 3 controller said: "We hope it will encourage audiences to explore online classical music.

"This trial was all about gauging listeners' appetite for downloads and the results are astonishing."

Complete works

He said he was hopeful the programmes had "attracted people who wouldn't previously have explored much classical music, as well as inspiring others to embrace digital technology".

The pieces were conducted by Gianandrea Noseda.

The downloads were available between 5 and 10 June when the classical music station played the complete works of the composer in one week.

The remaining symphonies - six to nine - will be available to download for seven days after they are broadcast later this month.

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