For the first time in Nottingham, all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas will be performed in 10 concerts over 4 days to celebrate 250th anniversary

Featuring a line-up of leading international artists, the Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas will be performed at the Royal Concert Hall and Djanogly Recital Hall, Lakeside Arts in Nottingham, alongside a series of illustrative talks, discussions and fringe performances.

Beethoven 250: The Complete Piano Sonatas

Thursday 14 – Sunday 17 May 2020

“Tones sound, and roar and storm about me until I have set them down in notes” – Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven’s thirty-two piano sonatas represent arguably the most significant single corpus of work for piano in the repertoire, and demonstrate his development as an artist from the early Classical works inspired by Haydn and Mozart to the ferociously demanding ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata of 1818 and the enigmatic and exploratory final three sonatas of 1820-1822. Remarkably, many of his most important solo piano works were written as he struggled with irreversible and profound hearing loss.

In May, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, all thirty-two of his piano sonatas will be performed in ten concerts over four days, at the Royal Concert Hall Nottingham and Djanogly Recital Hall, Lakeside Arts.

Series curator, Emmanuel Despax, said, “I am thrilled and honoured to be curating and performing in this series. Going on this wonderful journey through the 32 piano sonatas, is like glimpsing through a window, deep into the mind of one of the greatest composers that ever lived.  I think that one of the main reasons why this music is still so powerful today and resonates within us on a universal level, is because of its inherent sense of struggle, and fighting to try to overcome that struggle. Beethoven’s music taps into our common humanity and unites us, in a way that few other composers did.”

Neil Bennison, Music Programme Manager at the Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall said, “Beethoven rewrote the rule book for successive generations of musicians and his works for solo piano reflected not only his Romantic, defiant impulse, but also his supreme artistry as a performer. His piano sonatas continue to ask searching questions for performers and audiences alike, and encompass a uniquely enthralling musical journey. It’s a huge thrill, then, to have the opportunity to present them all in a landmark series that is built on the strengths of two of the city’s leading music venues.”

Catherine Hocking, Head of Music Programmes at Lakeside Arts, added, “Lakeside Arts, University of Nottingham is proud to be a partner and co-producer of what will be an extraordinarily rich experience for audiences and performers alike. Presenting all of Beethoven’s sonatas as a marathon event over four intensive days in two venues is the kind of exhilarating challenge that the city of Nottingham and its Universities thrive on, in the knowledge that the resulting Festival will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Alongside the main concert programme we have devised a stimulating Fringe programme which features academic researchers and performers who will enthuse, provoke and educate audiences about this inspirational and innovative composer.”

Launching the series on Thursday 14 May, the series curator, pianist Emmanuel Despax, will be joined for a pre-series introduction by musicologist and animateur, Dr Jonathan James, who will present three insightful pre-concert talks during the series. He will also be blogging and creating two podcasts to explore the world of Beethoven’s piano sonatas.

There will be free events to enjoy including post-show Q&As with all the artists; two fringe concerts taking a sideways glance at Beethoven’s music; a public masterclass on Beethoven performance, and a Building a Library session with broadcaster Katy Hamilton.

About Author /

Kath is an actor, singer and writer with a passion for theatre. She has been reviewing for At The Theatre since 2014. Kath has a Masters in Performance at Liverpool Hope University and is Creative Engagement Worker for B arts, a participatory arts organisation.

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