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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Musical Interlude: A Beethoven Concert

DECEMBER 16, 1770

Today is Beethoven's 250th birthday.

Biography.Com says,
Composer Ludwig van Beethoven was baptized on December 17, 1770, in Bonn, Germany. He was an innovator, widening the scope of sonata, symphony, concerto and quartet, and combining vocals and instruments in a new way. His personal life was marked by a struggle against deafness, and some of his most important works were composed during the last 10 years of his life, when he was quite unable to hear. He died in 1827 at the age of 56.
He performed in his first concert at the age of seven...and published his first work at 13. By 1819 he was completely deaf but went on to compose some of his most famous pieces of music including, the Ninth Symphony.

In 2015 we listened to the Seventh Symphony (my personal favorite) and in 2014, the Ninth Symphony (Ode to Joy).

Beethoven wrote more than his 9 symphonies. He also composed
  • a horn sonata
  • an opera
  • five cello sonatas
  • five choral works
  • seven piano concertos numbered #0 through 6, the last being unfinished
  • seven piano trios and a piano quartet
  • ten violin sonatas
  • sixteen string quartets
  • thirty-two piano sonatas


This year's concert of about 50 minutes, consists of five pieces exploring Beethoven's piano works.

Beethoven's first published work (at age 13): Nine Variations on a March by Dressler for piano.

Piano Concerto in E flat major is one of his earlier works, written in 1784 when he was 13. Only the piano part survives today, although there are some indications in the manuscript for orchestral cues. On the occasions when the work has been performed, the orchestral part has had to be arranged beforehand. The concerto is sometimes referred to as Piano Concerto No. 0, as it came before all of Beethoven's other piano concertos. It is rarely performed.

This is the third movement, Rondo Allegretto.

From early works, to one of the latest – Beethoven wrote his last piano sonata, number 32, in 1822, after he had completely lost his hearing. This is one of his most interesting pieces with traditional phrases, hints of Mozart, along with a pre-shadowing of modern music and a few jazz licks. The second movement is performed here by Spanish pianist, Alberto Cobo.

Für Elise, which Beethoven wrote for piano (1810), is here, played on a classic guitar.

Today's concert closes with the complete Piano Sonata No. 14, the "Moonlight" Sonata. This is perhaps his most well known piano piece, here performed by Valentina Lisitsa.


A Complete Listing of Beethoven's music

Ludwig van Beethoven on Biography.Com

Ludwig van Beethoven at Encyclopædia Britannica

This was originally posted on Dec 16, 2016. I've made some corrections and updates.


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