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BEETHOVENinPRIMETIME
1-2 February 2020

In 2020, AMUZ will be celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, still a firm favourite of many music lovers. Thirteen international pianists will play all of his 32 piano sonatas in a single weekend.

Beethoven was born in Bonn, but moved to Vienna in 1794. He would meet with great success there as a pianist and composer, as well as serious misfortune. He is one of the few composers about whom we can confidently say that he changed the course of musical history. The First Viennese School brought Beethoven to dizzy heights, and he introduced new attitudes to rhythm, harmony and melody, paving the way for the first flowerings of Romanticism. He composed in almost every genre of his time, from grand orchestral works to sublime chamber music with symphonic flair.

During his lifetime, Beethoven searched obsessively for the perfect keyboard instrument to express his ideas. He was looking for something that seemed all but impossible at the time: a piano with a full, melodious sound that could play loudly but also with articulation, flexibility and sensitivity. Consequently, he owned several instruments during his life, ranging from a light fortepiano made by the Stein family to his last instrument, an imposing model by Conrad Graf, whose qualities he could sadly no longer appreciate due to his deafness. The fact that Beethoven’s fame extended far beyond Vienna is demonstrated by the fact that he was even given instruments by French and English piano makers – Erard and Broadwood respecively – who were only too eager to have their name linked to that of Europe’s most prominent composer.

Beethoven made enthusiastic use of the instruments’ qualities, and this can clearly be heard in his sonatas. From his first sonata in 1795 to the last in 1822, all are masterpieces created through hours of experimentation with the instruments made by Stein, Streicher, Walter, Erard and Broadwood. To demonstrate the evolution of his work, AMUZ is programming all 32 piano sonatas in chronological order. What is more, 13 different pianists will play pianos that are very similar to the instruments available to Beethoven in his time. AMUZ has loaned these pianos from instrument collections in Belgium and abroad. BEETHOVENinPRIMETIME will be the ideal opportunity for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the “New Testament of the Piano”, as Hans von Bülow called Beethoven’s sonatas.