Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 1:17 pm
The piano wasn't fancy, and the acoustics were bad. But a performance of Beethoven's "Für Elise" at a Prague airport is drawing rave reviews. The impromptu concert was put on by a traveler who brightened the mood in a departure lounge and earned applause by taking on the classic in a variety of styles.
Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 11:07 am
As Beethoven set about composing his Third Symphony, his hearing was failing and he felt certain his life was about to get worse. That it was born in a moment of despair may help explain why the finished work, for all its grandeur, is extremely odd — employing devices that are by turns aggressive and mundane, somber and practically danceable.
At the center of "A Late Quartet" is Beethoven's String Quartet #14, Opus 131. Throughout the drama, the sublime sounds of the work are played by the Brentano String Quartet. Onscreen are Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Mark Ivanir as the "Fugue String Quartet."
Ultimate, a word that originally meant last in Latin has become a description of finest or best in English or ne plus ultra in French. It can be argued that Beethoven's last or ultimate sonata fits both definitions.
Coming near the end of a life of breaking barriers and exercising his considerable will, the composer's last sonatas are artistic works that have earned their immortality.
It is scary to realize that some of our planet's great art is there for what at the time was an accidental circumstance.
In 1819 Moritz Schlesinger, a music publisher, met with Beethoven and bargained for 60 songs and 3 piano sonatas. These were his last three piano sonatas - the pinnacle of his Late period - and took longer because of illness and other work.
Because of these circumstances there was talk of dropping the sonatas from the contract. The Piano Sonata No. 31 was finished Christmas Day 1821.
My piano teacher told me about the story of Ludwig van Beethoven's creation of his biggest Piano Sonata the "Hammerklavier."
It goes back to John Broadwood sending him his best and biggest piano, and Beethoven's reply was this groundbreaking work. When I looked up to confirm what I was told, I found out the story was even more amazing.