Updated: 3 days ago

"I would rather write 10,000 notes than a single letter of the alphabet."

In March 1778, at the age of seven, Ludwig van Beethoven performed in public for the first time. He was billed as a piano-playing “wunderkind”. Considered one of the greatest musical geniuses who ever lived, Beethoven began losing his hearing in his mid-20s, after already building a solid reputation as a musician and composer. This deterioration of his hearing would continue until he became completely deaf.

While many are aware of Beethoven's struggle with deafness , many don’t realize the extraordinary challenge it presented to the composer. "Imagine directing an orchestra you can’t hear. Or, playing a soundless piano for a staring audience?" queries Donato Cabrera, Music Director of the California Symphony, in his essay titled, The Whole Story of Beethoven's Deafness. How Beethoven navigated this deafness is one of the great stories of humanity, not just of classical music.

Just how was Beethoven able to continue composing despite the loss of his hearing? For this, his incredible grasp of composition is often credited. Music is a language, with rules. It is the process of putting sounds and tones in an order and combining them to create a unified composition. Beethoven's great command of this language of music is what enabled him to sit at his desk and organize its components (or compose) without actually hearing it. "Beethoven was a master of the language of music, which is about the creation of sound, not about listening," further notes Mr. Cabrera in his essay.

On December 16 of 2020, the world honored the brilliant pianist and composer Ludwig van Beethoven on the occasion of his 250th birthday. This Sunday afternoon, December 5, at 3 PM, the Coudert Institute will (belatedly) join in this milestone celebration by presenting OLIVER HERBERT, cello and XIAOHUI YANG, piano as they present for us the COMPLETE CELLO SONATAS. Tickets are now available through this link.

Cellist OLIVER HERBERT is quickly building a reputation as an artist with a distinct voice and individual style. Performing a wide range of repertoire, Oliver’s recent solo and recital appearances include debuts with the San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony SoundBox, Union College Concert Series, and the Dame Myra Hess Recital Series in Chicago, among others.  Oliver has worked with renowned conductors such as Michael Tilson Thomas, Juanjo Mena, and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. As a chamber musician, Oliver has performed with some of the leading musicians of our time including Shmuel Ashkenasi, Franklin Cohen, Pamela Frank, Miriam Fried, Clive Greensmith, Nobuko Imai, Meng-Chieh Liu, David Shifrin, and Peter Wiley. In addition, Oliver frequently collaborates with pianist Xiaohui Yang as a recital duo. Together they have performed on tours in both the United States and Greece, and in June 2020 released a debut recording featuring the music of Fauré and Janáček.​ Oliver's additional recording highlights include a release of Haydn's D Major Cello Concerto on Warner Classics with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony.

XIAOHUI YANG has been featured in performances throughout four continents, including in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Ozawa Hall, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Seoul Arts Center. In additon, shas been a soloist with ensembles such as the Louisiana Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Acadiana Symphony, Curtis Symphony, Galveston Symphony and Poland’s Capella Bydgostiensis. Solo and collaborative performances include recitals for Portland Piano International, Shriver Hall Concert Series (Baltimore), Union College Concert Series (Schenectady, NY), Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts (Chicago) and Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (Katonah, NY). "Xiaohui and I are so thrilled to be able to present these Beethoven Sonatas with everyone at the Coudert Institute. It is our first time performing the whole cycle in one event and working on all of the pieces at once has given us a lot of insight into how the pieces speak and resonate on deeper levels when put into context with one another," expressed Mr. Herbert. "This concert represents a big moment for our musical partnership as a duo and it is also a wonderful chance to experience and celebrate the scope of Beethoven's artistry. It is sure to be a journey and we can't wait to experience it with you all."

As we continue to try to interpret and understand why BEETHOVEN's music remains so important, we wonder... Why have we heard his music a hundred times? Why and how is it meaningful for us? We are delighted to present this unique experience for exploring such questions. "In relationship to all the other stimulating opportunities that the Institute offers, the Concert in the Garden series on Sunday afternoons is designed to bring the very finest and most promising creative young talent from the Curtis Institute to audiences in an intimate, relaxed and beautiful garden atmosphere," shares The Institute's Music Director Ford Lallerstedt. "These dynamic young artists are all motivated with fresh creative visions for nurturing the vital importance of musical art in society. Come meet them, hear them and be uplifted."

Above Beethoven portrait by, Joseph Karl Stieler.

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Newly emerging from this arduous chapter of isolation, now more than ever is the time to connect and recognize our shared humanity, and allow it bring out what is best in each of us as we continue to move through this world. Through extraordinary programming this is the reality which will drive the Coudert Institute’s brand new season, launching in November.

Over two decades ago, the Institute was founded as a forum in which to realize this bold vision. Back then, who could have imagined these unparalleled times in which we as a nation and world find ourselves. Yet, our way through remains the same. We need to talk to one another. We need ideas that can change the world. I continue to be amazed by what happens when we stretch to welcome the voices which compete with our own and join together in honest conversation to explore the mystery that is this human existence.

Our 2022 season will be brimming with a host of leaders in the world of science, education, digital technology, medicine, and the humanities, and will kick off tackling the ever pertinent topic of justice, featuring a panel led by DR. WILLIAM C. COOK. Following will be an appearance from the New York Times best-selling author LAURENCE LEAMER as he shares his brand new book Capote’s Women (Putnam 2021). From there, the Institute moves into gutsy topics such as campus culture (with Campusland author SCOTT JOHNSTON) and the responsibility of the media in our evolving culture — featuring an all star panel of renowned journalists. Highlighting our season will be a rare local appearance by DR. TONY NADER as he shares his newly released book One Unbounded Ocean of Consciousness (Random House, 2021). Our 2022 programming will also find us once again partnering with the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation as we celebrate the natural world. Peppered throughout our series of dynamic programming will be a lineup of (in person) world renowned musical performers and other arts luminaries sharing their gifts.

"The truth is we are all human beings, and there are common threads in every civilization. My ongoing vision is to create the conditions which allow us to engage in spirited and civil dialogue in order to drive solutions to the issues challenging each of us."

COUDERT INSTITUTE FOUNDING DIRECTOR, DALE COUDERT Every season finds us welcoming a host of new voices to our conversation. We hope this addition will include you! Please join us in beautiful Palm Beach for what we know will be a groundbreaking season! Enjoy this brand new conversation with STAR JONES and the Coudert Institute's Founding Director DALE COUDERT... CLICK HERE.

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Updated: Apr 14

"In a democracy... people have to talk." In his two day seminar, titled American Democracy Today and the Future, Dr. Bill Cook reminded us of this charge made by the french nobleman and political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville back in the 1800s. This timeless notion is precisely what fueled our drive to deliver a 2021 season - to see that the show went on, despite the world's chaos. Gatherings of minds matter, perhaps now more than ever, and history continues to illustrate that such conversations start a ripple.

Culture is our way of understanding who we are. Culture answers the question, "HOW DO WE LIVE HERE?"

Embracing technology and sampling a brand new location at The Ben Hotel in West Palm Beach, we began our season by joining together, in the company of a dynamic panel of renowned political journalists, on the eve of one of our nation's most significant elections. That launching point led us into the timely exploration of what diplomatic relations might look like between the United States and the Middle East under the new (incoming) administration. As we welcomed the start of 2021, The Institute went on to tackle topics such as international spying, smart eating, de Tocqueville, memoir, time and the future of digital currency in the fine art markets. We partnered with our friends the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation to present the ecologist and author and "one of the most important voices for nature of our time" Carl Safina as he reminded us of the profound depth of beauty of the living world, and cautioned us of its current state of peril.

Author Susan Cheever opened her March presentation, which focused on "genius clusters", by praising the magic of "incidental conversations" and the resilience they offered to her personally throughout this most uncertain of times. "To me, one of the things I've learned in this past year is the importance of community, the importance of our friends, and especially the magic of conversation." We could not agree more, and this "magic" is the pillar on which the Coudert Institute continues to rest. On behalf of The Institute and its Board of Directors, we are beyond grateful to Susan and to all of our presenters, many of whom who traveled here to Palm Beach in order to share their wisdom and power our season forward:

MARGARET CARLSON, ELEANOR CLIFT, STEVE CLEMONS, ALVIN FELZENBERG, KIRSTEN FONTENROSE, KEITH MELTON, CHEF ALLEN CAMPBELL, MYLES LUDWIG, CARL SAFINA, DR. BILL COOK, ERIC WIND, MICHAEL GREENBERG, SUSAN CHEEVER Whether in person (at a social distance), or remotely via technology, to each of you who joined us in our mission to soldier on and continue to converse civilly on subjects at the forefront... THANK YOU! Thank you for your unwavering support and for your patience as we navigated new frontiers in technology. Most importantly, thank you for sharing your curiosity and your open mind(s) in our shared promise of perhaps seeing things in some new ways, despite the tumult that was 2020 - 2021. As always, we welcome your feedback and your input as we begin to build our programming for next year. We invite you to revisit the rich conversations and experiences of our 2021 season throughout the summer by visiting our video archives HERE.

We look forward to welcoming EVERYONE back in our 2022 season, and to reintroducing our world class musical programming outdoors in the beautiful garden. Stay safe, and see you next season!

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