Celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday with Chamber Music and Arts Singapore
Beethoven 250 celebrates the composer’s landmark birthday in fine style.

Celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday with Chamber Music and Arts Singapore

Beethoven 250 is a belated celebration of what would have been the master’s landmark birthday. The party should have been on 16 Dec, the date of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth in 1770, but was delayed due to the pandemic. The highlight of this special celebration is set to be local violinist Tang Tee Khoon and Italian pianist Luca Buratto (both pictured below) performing 10 Beethoven sonatas for piano and violin in chronological order over four evenings in January. See below for a taster.

Week 1_Beethoven 250 Tang tee khoon
Week 1_Beethoven 250 Luca Buratto

Young ones, too, can experience the magic of Beethoven with a morning of fun, learning and music with the Chamber Music and Arts Singapore (CMAS) ensemble.

There are two Concerts for Children at the Esplanade Recital Studio on 8 Jan. Those under six years old can experience Beethoven’s inner world inspired by nature through his famous Sonata No. 5, nicknamed Spring. This 10am show is followed at midday by Jokes and Rounds, a concert based on the many musical jokes to be found in the sonatas. Children of 6 to 12 years will enjoy a musically ticklish time.

Then, in four performances over two evenings, CMAS will play the entire cycle of violin sonatas, all written during a period of just 15 years between 1797 and 1812. Did you know that in this short span, Beethoven is said to have refashioned and reinvented the form?

Violin Sonatas No.1, 2 & 3

Violin Sonatas No.1, No.2 and No.3 were composed in 1797 and 1798 when a young Beethoven was studying with Hayden. The style is indeed reminiscent of Hayden – and of Mozart, who had died just a few years before at the tender age of 35. Interestingly, all three sonatas were dedicated to Antonio Salieri, the man portrayed as Mozart’s nemesis in Miloš Forman’s 1984 movie, Amadeus.

Sonata No.4

The fourth sonata came several years later as Beethoven, then 25, approached the zenith of his talent and, unlike the first three, it garnered a favourable reception from the critics. Encouraged, Beethoven penned Sonata No.5, commonly known as Spring because of its fresh tonality and flowing melodies.

Sonata No.6 in A Major, No.7 in C Minor and No.8 in G Major

These masterpieces were all composed between 1801 and 1802 and were all dedicated to Tsar Alexander 1 of Russia. Beethoven saw himself as a free spirit who rejected the role of court composer accepted by his predecessors. He embraced the principles of freedom and egalitarianism embodied by the French Revolution and at first regarded Napoleon as a paragon. Eventually alienated by Napoleon’s autocratic tendencies, he dedicated this trio of sonatas to Tsar Alexander, Bonaparte’s implacable enemy; a man who, ironically, ruled over the most autocratic state in Europe.

Op.47 in A Major

Beethoven’s ninth violin sonata is easily his longest at around 40 minutes and his most ambitious in terms of technical difficulty and emotional scope. It is commonly known as the Kreutzer Sonata after violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer. But for a drunken argument it would have been the Bridgetower Sonata, for it was British violinist George Bridgetower who premiered the work on 24 May 1803. However, over drinks after the concert, Bridgetower apparently insulted the morals of a woman whom Beethoven cherished. The outraged composer removed Bridgetower’s name from the piece, dedicating it instead to Kreutzer who, in another irony, is on record as disliking it.

No.10 in G Major

The last violin sonata was written in 1812 – the year of Napoleon’s disastrous retreat from Moscow. Despite the political turmoil of the time, it is one of Beethoven’s loveliest sonatas, offering a calm, ethereal beauty to finish the cycle.

Book tickets for Beethoven 250 here.

(Photos and video: Chamber Music and Arts Singapore)

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