Category Archives: Ludwig van Beethoven

Schiff on Beethoven, Again

Andras Schiff has been spending a lot of time with Beethoven in recent years, playing all 32 piano sonatas in a series of 8 recitals in London, New York and Los Angeles (and maybe other cities, too?). He’s gotten reviews like this one from Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times:

He’s thought these pieces through very thoroughly, and he is gadding about the country delivering his cycle, yet he manages to make every gesture seem as though he were discovering it for the first time. He is a remarkable Beethovenian — fresh, original, riveting.

He’s recorded them all, too, and Classical Minnesota Public Radio will bring those recordings to you in December. Starting Monday, listen in the 10 a.m. hour for your daily dose of Beethoven.

Looking for extra credit? Here’s a link to audio for a series of lecture-demonstrations Schiff gave about the Beethoven sonatas when he played the whole cycle in London.

Beethoven on Broadway

Publisher Anton Diabelli wrote a short waltz and sent it to 50 composers, asking each of them to write a variation on it. Beethoven turned him down–but then ultimately wrote 33 variations on it. Why?

That’s the question at the heart of a Broadway-bound play called 33 Variations. It’s by Moises Kaufmann, the same playwright who created The Laramie Project and Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. Jane Fonda has been announced in the role of a modern-day musicologist trying to unravel the mystery.

Read more about the upcoming Broadway production here; find the website for the play’s world premiere at Washington’s Arena Stage here.

Andras Schiff on Beethoven

I mentioned this on the air this morning, so I thought I’d post a link, too.

Pianist Andras Schiff has been playing all of the Beethoven sonatas in a series of eight recitals. A couple of years ago, when he played them at Wigmore Hall in London, he also gave a lecture-demonstration before each concert, and much to my delight London’s Guardian newspaper put the audio files on their website.

Schiff is finishing up the same series of concerts at Carnegie Hall this season, but doesn’t appear to be giving the lectures again.

Beethoven Gets Even

Just in case you missed it on All Things Considered: Music critic Tom Manoff taking notice that the most famous Beethoven symphonies have the odd numbers (Beethoven’s Fifth, Beethoven’s Ninth..), and the “neglected” ones, the even.

Actually, in the case of Beethoven, they’re all famous–but the even numbers may be slightly less so. The full story here.

Beethoven, Klemperer and Mendelssohn

So, the Minnesota Orchestra kicked off their “Beethoven’s Back” promotion today with The Big Guy himself handing out coffee, newspapers and downloads in front of Orchestra Hall this morning, and it reminded me of a story about Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the great conductor of long ago, Otto Klemperer.

It seems Klemperer was visiting a music shop with a recording company executive named George de Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. He approached a clerk and asked, “Do you have Klemperer conducting Beethoven’s Fifth?”

“No,” the man replied. “We have it conducted by Ormandy and Toscanini. Why do you want it by Klemperer?”

“Because I am Klemperer,” the conductor replied indignantly.

“Sure,” said the clerk, and nodding at his companion he said “And that, I suppose, is Beethoven?”

“No,” Klemperer grinned, “That’s Mendelssohn.”