On Wednesday, December 16, 2020, the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, KNCJ Wednesday Evening Classics — which airs Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. on public radio station KNCJ — celebrated the occasion by turning the two hours of the program over to the musicians of the Reno community and region. They shared their thoughts about Beethoven and his music, and related some personal anecdotes connected with Beethoven. And their stories helped to choose the Beethoven music heard on the program. Below you’ll find the musicians’ comments, as well as some additional testimonials and details of the music that was played on that program. Many thanks to all the musicians that participated!
As a child I listened to Beethoven’s fifth and ninth Symphony’s on records from my parents classical LPs. But the real passion came the first time I played a Beethoven symphony. It was my first semester in college and being surrounded by the full sound of Beethoven’s third symphony and blending my sound as an inner voice in his genius second violin part, I knew I wanted to keep having that experience for ever. Since that time, I have always been in an orchestra and have never lost my love of the inner voice.
— Paula Lenz
* I teach Music Appreciation at Spanish Springs HS and one of my favorite lessons is simply having the high school students read Beethoven’s Heiligenstadt Testament. It’s very dark, but the students are able to enter into his human experience with hearing loss and have empathy for his depression. Now, I also play a new choral work called A Silence Haunts Me which was written by Jake Runestad (a prominent young choral composer) in 2018 and performed for the National ACDA conference in 2019. I was in attendance for that premiere and it was one of the most visceral musical experiences I’ve had as an audience member- feeling like I was hearing Beethoven’s voice during that dark time of his life. You can read more about the work here.
* I have a rule in my choral classroom that students can only play the opening of Für Elise on our piano if they can also play the B section. 🙂
* When I was a graduate student at Westminster Choir College, Beethoven’s 9th performances were a “common occurrence” with incredible orchestras at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, the Kimmel Center, but the most memorable performance was on Friday, October 22, 2010 when 80 members of Symphonic Choir performed it memorized with the KBS Symphony Orchestra conducted by Shinik Hahm at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC. The concert was open to UN delegates and invited guests. It was videotaped for broadcast in Korea. Though it isn’t my favorite large choral work, I think singing it at the UN was a uniquely appropriate setting, and it was an unforgettable experience. I’ll always have the Tenor line memorized “auf Deutsch”!
— Ricky Hutton
Music by Beethoven featured on KNCJ Wednesday Evening Classics on December 16, 2020
(with links to YouTube videos of the performances)
Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 1/3, fourth movement
Daniel Barenboim, piano; Pinchas Zukerman, violin; Jacqueline du Pré, cello
Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, fourth movement
Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Carlos Kleiber
Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, “Pathétique,” second movement
Claudio Arrau, piano
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, third movement
Itzhak Perlman, violin; Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini
String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 95 “Serioso,” fourth movement
Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, second movement
Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Claudio Abbado
Piano Trio in D major, Op. 70/1 “Ghost,” second movement (starts at 7:25 in video)
Wilhelm Kempff, piano; Henryk Szeryng, violin; Pierre Fournier, cello
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, fourth movement
George Szell conducting the Cleveland Orchestra
String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132, fifth movement
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, “Pastoral,” first movement
Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Herbert von Karajan