A Personal Relationship with Beethoven

A Personal Relationship with BeethovenFebruary, 2020

Thor 665x370Thor Steingraber

We’re about halfway through our Beethoven concerts. There were six altogether — 1 solo piano recital, 1 chamber concert, 2 concertos, and 2 symphonies. I don’t mind boasting a little: we managed to engage some of the most respected artists in the world to present to you these many facets of Beethoven. You might only find this roster of artists at Carnegie Hall or a similar venue: Joshua Bell, Pinchas Zukerman, Joseph Kalichstein, Lahav Shani, among others. We are discerning yet aspirational in our programming decisions, choosing from among the many exceptional interpreters worldwide. Our powers of persuasion are at work too — these artists have hundreds of venues to choose from in crafting their annual itineraries, and here they are in Northridge.

Back to Beethoven. I had considered complementing our programming with a series of lectures or similar events to help you contextualize Beethoven himself and the specific musical pieces on the program. Frankly, I’m not sure how many people would have time to show up. Of course, you could take a DIY approach and pick up a copy of one of the many Beethoven biographies. There are countless recordings too. The resources are endless.

However, I would encourage you to take a personal approach. Make your own connections to the music, and join a concert hall filled with good-hearted individuals like yourself, each with their own relationship to the music and collectively moved by a man born 250 years ago, who spanned centuries and created his masterpieces in the context of political and personal upheaval (sound familiar?). Since then, ten generations have turned to him in times of joy and times of intense fear and sorrow.

I first experienced Beethoven in piano lessons when I was about ten years old. It was also Beethoven that ended my piano “career;” one fiercely nerve-racking sonata competition in high school was enough for me. While I stopped playing at age 17, I still own those volumes of music, in a box that has moved across country multiple times. The connection is deep for me, and it’s still the intimate and quiet Beethoven that I love best. In the coming weeks, the big orchestral sound will fill The Soraya, and that’s a different thrill altogether. Please be a part of it. I wish for you a very personal experience with Beethoven.

Thor Steingraber
Thor Steingraber,
Executive Director
Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts