Updated: Dec 3, 2021
"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.