It’s on the horizon; the countdown has begun. Next year marks Beethoven’s 250th Anniversary celebrations; in fact, the celebrations start in December 2019, promising a year of exciting concerts and events worldwide.
But I’m starting early, partly inspired by a photograph of Liszt taken in his Weimar study, and by my visit to that room in 2017. The room is unchanged since Liszt lived there, complete with pianos, furniture, and personal items, including Liszt’s conducting batons, and a pair of his spectacles – pince-nez, in fact.
It’s the picture of Beethoven on the wall which has always caught my attention, and the relationship between the two composers is my starting point. They met when Liszt was a small boy; Liszt studied with Czerny, who was Beethoven’s pupil. Liszt transcribed Beethoven’s nine symphonies for solo piano – an extraordinary feat. Playing the transcriptions is even more of a feat; one of my piano teachers, Ronald Smith, recorded and regularly performed the transcription of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. Leslie Howard has recorded all of them. Liszt performed Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto in Paris, conducted by Berlioz, and performed it at the unveiling of the Beethoven monument in Bonn in 1845, where he also conducted Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.
So this year I plan to look at music by Beethoven and by Liszt, and to look at Beethoven through Liszt’s eyes, and the eyes of others who knew him. The eyes have it.
#BTHVN2020 – Open to View.