Tag Archives: Beethoven

Don’t cry for me, Beethoven

Once upon a time there was a bushy-haired teenager who travelled the world performing all the sonatas of Beethoven. This feat was much admired, as it was generally supposed that young people couldn’t play Beethoven, as it needed lots of worldly "maturity"--especially the slow movements, and most especially the last sonatas, which were out of the realms of possibility for established pianists under the age of 80. “You will understand them when you’re older” was the mantra universally applied to young pianists, the way young people are told they will understand love when they get older.

So we all trooped off to hear this prodigious youth when he came to a concert hall near us. He did indeed play all the sonatas, including the well-nigh impossible "Hammerklavier" very well. Not with any finesse, but solidly and dependably. This was Beethoven in the tradition of Schnabel--another "complete" Beethoven pianist, and similarly a pianist who made up for what he lacked in pianistic skill with an apparently quasi-religious dedication to the complete works of the master.

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