Beethoven's Creative Vision: Journeys and Worlds

Event date: November 14 - November 16, 2016

    Barbara Barry (University of London)



    *All musicology papers and discussions, and the master class on the string quartet op. 130, are at the Israeli Institute of Advanced Studies, Feldman Building on the Givat Ram Campus. Performance sessions, apart from the op. 130 master class, will be at the Jerusalem Music Center.


    The focus of the conference is the major instrumental works of Beethoven, which are central to performance, knowledge and music education. Since music is an international language, these works play a strategic role in Israel’s cultural life, enriching audiences’ experience in concerts; as core repertory in music performance for piano solo repertory, chamber music and orchestral works; and for musicologists, theorists and composers to gain understanding of creative thinking and the transformation of existing structural models.

    Through the wide appeal of Beethoven’s instrumental works, the unique aspect of this conference is to bring together musicians from different sectors in dialogue. Interdisciplinary learning, both formal and informal, is a central focus of the conference which is open to performers, teachers and researchers from Israeli and abroad, to encourage exchange of ideas and develop new ways of involving participation and interest in Beethoven's music. Together with experienced professionals, there will also be a central role for students. Pianists from the Jerusalem Music Center and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance will have the opportunity to participate in a master class with world-class pianist, Peter Donohoe, winner of the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, and a string quartet seminar with American musicologist David Levy.

    With important contributions from musicologists and performers, a special feature of the conference will be works studied from two complementary perspectives, either musicology and performance, or teaching and conducting. Sonata, symphony and string quartet are the three representative forms of Beethoven’s instrumental genres. The featured works are Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ piano sonata, where papers and discussions will be followed by a master class for pianists; the third symphony ‘Eroica’, discussed from perspectives of teaching and conducting with conductor Andres Mustonen; and two of the late string quartets, addressed in musicology papers and in a string quartet performance master class/seminar.


    The conference will consider these works from two perspectives: as journeys, whose points of departure, digression and return show parallels with other kinds of human journeys, physical and emotional; and as independent worlds, with their own rules of engagement, material and probabilities that are sometimes fulfilled, and, as in all worlds, sometimes waylaid. Beethoven's instrumental works had significant influence on many later 19th century composers, including Berlioz, Brahms and Mahler, each of whom developed individual aspects of style and structure which would have been unthinkable without Beethoven's creative vision.


    In engaging with these works as performers, listeners and scholars, we re-address critical questions of identity and meaning: why these works continue to engage us as significant human experience, and are particularly important at times of violence and uncertainty in many aspects of contemporary life.