Sunday, December 26, 2021

A Great Day with Beethoven and Vivaldi

My musical day started with reading through the second part (the last six sonatas) of Vivaldi's La strava ganza on violin, and reading through some of his l'estro armonico. It seems to me that Vivaldi might have written La strava ganza for students as an enjoyable way to develop their bow arms. L'estro armonico is much more interesting (and much more difficult). It's not something just to read through. I definitely want to explore each piece carefully and thoughtfully.

Beethoven was on my piano menu, but I decided to skip the early sonatas I had been working on. After the first sonata they do get rather expansive, and since I can't play them at tempo, I tend to lose patience. I decided try playing the Pathetique Sonata. I know that the piece is quite economical: it has lots of bang for the buck, so to speak. I have analyzed the piece, and taught it to countless musical appreciation students over the years, but, until now, I have never been able to play the Pathetique well enough to understand what is going on in it pianistically.

Being able (finally) to observe how Beethoven writes for the piano by playing this piece feels like a gift. Playing it (for me, with my particular set of purposes) is like putting on Beethoven's shoes and going for a walk in his neighborhood.

Over the past several years I have come to understand that my relationship to music is extremely physical. Holding the music (not the sheet music, but the music itself), whether it is Vivaldi or Beethoven, in my hands, is a richer and richer experience. And the more ways I can enter into that experience, the more I learn about this multi-faceted thing we call music.

Whatever I learned from today's piano time with Beethoven seemed to bleed into today's violin time with Beethoven.

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