Short Program: Final Thunder: Beethoven's Late Music July 25 - 28, 2018
Ludwig Van Beethoven
Beethoven, the pivotal composer in musical history, continues to fascinate us despite the two centuries that distance us from his lifetime. Somehow he reaches us emotionally, and his music continues to speak with great power and strength. In 2006 we looked at his entire life and output. This time we will focus on the works of his late period.
What are the reasons for Beethoven's ability to move, challenge, and to change us? Are they inevitably rooted in the tragedy of his deafness? Are they related to his personal desire to share his innermost yearnings, thoughts, and ideals? Or are they connected more objectively to his masterful manipulation of musical elements such as melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, and form? Beethoven continues the characteristics of a classical style he inherited from Haydn and Mozart, but he also anticipates the many innovative and experimental traits of a burgeoning Romantic style. These features are most strongly found in the remarkable production of his late works, dating from 1819 to 1826.
We will consider the way he redefines the structure of a sonata, with a special focus on the final three-Op. 109, Op. 110, and Op. 111-written for his instrument, the piano. Inevitably, the Ninth Symphony must be considered a political statement, the product of enlightenment ideals, as well as establishing, with its choral finale, a new definition of the symphony. We will look at the equally mighty Missa Solemnis, a vast work that reveals the composer as a deeply religious man. And no study of the late period would be complete without some awareness of the extraordinary testament of his final string quartets, works that were incomprehensible to his contemporaries and still surprise and challenge us today.
Leading us on this fruitful journey will be Professor Tim Gaylard, former chair of the Music Department and avid Beethovenite, who recently took a sabbatical devoted to the study and performance of the final three piano sonatas.