Program notes: BeethovenMusic
“As the autumn leaves fall and wither, so have my hopes withered… With joy I hasten to meet death face to face”. Beethoven wrote these words in a letter bewailing six years of increased loss of hearing to his brothers around the time he was finishing his 2nd symphony in October 1802. If Beethoven had the mindset of a pop or country songwriter, this may have ended up being the overall mood in his works throughout the remaining 25 years of his life gradually worsening together with the further deterioration of his hearing.
Beethoven’s 8th Symphony, Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra
However, even within the same letter he writes “Patience - it is said that I must now choose for my guide, I have done so, I hope my determination will remain firm to endure…”. Although some musicologists seem fascinated by the absence of gloom in his 2nd Symphony, we should not really be surprised that instead of a flickering flame, the general sensation instead seems to be FIRE! This symphony was as far the he would stretch the classical styles of Mozart and Haydn from which he was born, as a singularity reaching its maximum density, before exploding the realms of romanticism into existence.
The all-Beethoven New Year Concert program with the Jakarta Simfonia Orchestra will also include Beethoven’s 8th Symphony, and his fourth piano concerto, the last he ever performed.
Date/Time: 12 January 2019, 5pm
Venue: Aula Simfonia Jakarta
Tickets: +6221 6586 7808
T: +628777 100 2009
The Overture of Weber’s Oberon, Schubert’s 8th Symphony
As a composer, Beethoven seems to have improved as his deafness worsened. As a performer however, he ultimately had to concede the premiere of his final piano concerto to its dedicatee, his student and patron, Archduke Rudolph, with the first public performance entrusted to Friedrich Schneider. For this concert with the Bandung Philharmonic conducted by Robert Nordling, the soloist will be Sally Pinkas, whose career highlights include performances with the Boston Pops, the Aspen Philharmonia, Jupiter Symphony and the Bulgarian Chamber Orchestra, appearances at the festivals of Marlboro, Tanglewood, Aspen and Rockport, as well as Kfar Blum in Israel, Officina Scotese in Italy, and Masters de Pontlevoy in France.
Indeed, the conditions under which Beethoven wrote his 5th piano concerto were no better than 10 years prior. In addition to suffering what was by then almost complete deafness, he had just agreed in return for a life-long stipend to remain in Vienna despite it being under siege by Napoleon’s armies. In a letter to his publisher in Leipzig at the time, he wrote “we have been suffering misery in a most concentrated form.» Nevertheless, his musical output reflects nothing of the dismal circumstances surrounding him. Perhaps the music was precisely intended as a tool to inspire and uplift in the face of adversity.
It is lamentable that this transcendent piano concerto has been fettered with a nickname relating to the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Beethoven was a proponent of the democratic ideals of ancient Greece which he had thought were reflected in the aspirations of the Jacobins of post-revolutionary France, headed by Napoleon Bonaparte. However, in the spring of 1804 when he crowned himself Emperor, Beethoven scratched Napoleon’s name from the title page of his Sinfonia Eroica. Considering the genesis period of the concerto being 1809-1811, we can therefore conclusively infer that, at no point in Beethoven’s life or afterlife would he refer to his work as the “Emperor” Concerto.
Besides the concerto, the program also includes the Overture of Weber’s Oberon, Schubert’s 8th Symphony, and the world of a work by Aksan Sjuman.
Date/Time: 2 February 2019, 7pm
Venue: The Hilton Bandung, Jl. HOS Tjokroaminoto 41 – 43