At a string representing the 250th year of his arrival, we analyse the genius of Ludwig van Beethoven.
When Beethoven expired in 1827, ten thousand of pages of exceptionally notated songs were bequeathed to posterity. Yet unlike arts like sculpture and painting, which convey directly from the artist to the audience, these differently silent pages need resuscitation. They need functionality.
From all reports, Beethoven was an outstanding pianist. In playing his own compositions, nevertheless, he joined two characters which are now always different: those of composer and actor.
Playing the Part
Performing music is comparable to acting, where phrases by long-dead playwrights are given fresh life. It’s a delicate art, honed over decades, and is powerful only if the “voice” of this celebrity finds working together with this writer, neither you cancelling out another.
Likewise the part of the celebrity is important and distinct when translating classical music. Much like play it’s an additional energy, as both the material of this music and its functionality can be artwork. When both synthesize, fantastic music can actually live.
Detecting a composer’s individual voice requires careful research, and Beethoven’s songs is a case. Famously, he composed a number of the very first music considered “complete” – audio conveying something of excellent significance, with reference to some programmatic narrative or other sort of text.
Through years of adventure for a pianist, I have discovered Beethoven’s music needs a different strategy to that of the Viennese contemporaries. With Mozart, it’s frequently better to return to allow the composer do the speaking. With Schubert one requires patience, and an empathy for minutes of easy bliss.
By comparison, Beethoven’s music has to be championed.
A Virtuoso Musician
Beethoven was a virtuoso in the computer keyboard, as a lot of his songs shows. There are only a few works more difficult to perform in the piano compared to the renowned Hammerklavier sonata, and fantastic dexterity and flair have to in functions like the Waldstein and Appassionata sonatas.
Beethoven’s oldest sonatas are committed to Joseph Haydn, his “instructor” at Vienna. This might be read as a sign of respect, however, more cynically, one supposes he had been ensuring they captured his attention, for that which follows is Beethoven attempting to out-Haydn Haydn.
However the term simultaneously presents a specialized issue that stumps many pianists: smart fingering is needed with all the right-hand thirds, or they’ll never be eloquent!
The motion’s subsequent pages at times demand the computer keyboard to be performed like invoking the power of a full symphonic orchestra, though other passages are somewhat more soloistic.
It is masterly stuff, and also to triumph in functionality it is beneficial to comprehend the clever comedy of its subtext. Including the rapid movements between soloist and orchestral functions, along with the furtive wink back into Haydn, which appears to state”Watch what I could do? I don’t have any need of a teacher currently”.
We do not often credit the youthful as capable of deep sentiment, but a lot of Beethoven’s early works comprise minutes of this sublime.
Of note is that the slow motion of the ancient Sonata in D major, composed when he was 28. However seven decades after, the slow motion of the Piano Concerto shows Beethoven as a completely matured philosopher.
The orchestra starts with ferocious outbursts, however the piano is unmoved since it reacts.
Finally, all battle resolves. As a market, the motion is dialectical in its own structure. In the standpoint of this pianist, it’s similar to engaging in Greek tragedy; it is a role that has to be performed with fantastic certainty for the potent drama to be successful.
Considering Beethoven’s iconic standing among viewers, it’s easy to forget that he was a modernist. Even today, actors flinch in the initial closing movement of the late B flat significant string quartet – a motion which still astounds in its dissonance, and the composer felt obliged to substitute.
In the previous bit, the noisy introduction remembers the final bars of the Ninth Symphony, however this is but a curtain-raiser into the music’s silent core.
This is music which moves ideas of time, in places, apprehending minimalism. The eschewing of sophistication is prescient.
To execute this piece nicely is to be transported and changed, the crowd transported to the long-forgotten kingdom of a composer that regardless of the pressures of the last decades, seems to have found serenity.
Until the opening bars come back to wake up and we drown.