Beethoven & Arnowitt VIII
Beethoven & Arnowitt VIII is Michael Arnowitt’s final concert in his 26-year long odyssey to perform the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas. Starting in 1989 when he was 26 years old, Michael Arnowitt began a series of eight concerts, matching up his age as he performs the various sonatas with Beethoven’s age as Beethoven composed them. 2015 marks the end of this novel study into the psychology of aging and development with a program of Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas op. 109, 110, and 111, universally regarded as among the most spiritual and transcendent music of all time.
Written near the end of Beethoven’s life as his health was deteriorating rapidly, these visionary sonatas leave the physical world of the piano’s hammers and strings, taking us on inner journeys to sounds Beethoven could not hear in the external world, but could in his own imagination. This extraordinary music, touching upon themes of gratitude, healing, resurrection, wonder at Nature, and spiritual ecstasy, has moved generations of music-lovers around the world for 200 years. By journeying to his innermost self Beethoven paradoxically found what was universal to all of us, some goodness, some humaneness that we all touch in our better moments.
About the Performances
Michael Arnowitt has performed “Beethoven & Arnowitt” concerts in Boston, Portland, Michigan, Vermont, New York state, Washington, D.C., Canada, and Germany, where the Rheinische Post of Düsseldorf said, “he played with a striking virtuosity and deeply felt passion.” The renowned flutist Louis Moyse said Arnowitt played Beethoven with “grandeur,” meaning he understood and communicated the grand and sublime character of this profound music. The Washington Post said of a piano concert Michael Arnowitt performed at the National Gallery of Art, “He played with an exquisite sense of touch, color and musical imagination.”
Michael’s Interpretation of the Last Three Sonatas
As an overarching concept to provide an arc for the program as a whole, Michael is thinking of the first sonata as being about living, the second sonata about dying, and the last sonata about the afterlife.
Audience appreciation from Michael’s first performance of this program in 2015
His first performance sold out all tickets a week in advance, so he added a second concert that he performed later the same day. Here are some words written by people who were there in the audience, revealing the special power of this music.
“My wife and I were at your Beethoven concert. It was wonderful, in fact: beyond wonderful. One of the most moving concerts I have ever attended. I was in tears in each of the three sonatas -- a combination of your remarkably revealing interpretations, and Beethoven’s music. I literally felt I was hearing Beethoven think them out and compose them as you played. It was one of the musical high points of my life.”
“I went to this concert expecting to hear wonderful music played by an accomplished pianist. What I didn’t expect was the spiritual quality to the pieces. I wept from the sheer beauty of the last sonata and from Mr. Arnowitt’s unbelievable ability to communicate the emotion there. I was transported to another world!”
“So beautiful ...The concert was deeply moving, and had, for me, a lot of personal meaning. I heard many comments of wonder and awe. Your affinity with Beethoven's music is truly profound and unique, linked, perhaps, to a shared understanding of complex sensory challenges, as well as a depth of soul, and your own ability to touch, within, a universality of feeling--the very same gift you recognize in Beethoven ... A magnificent concert.”
“You blow me away. Your passion, your touch, it all culminates into a beautiful sound that is unmistakably yours.”
“you and Beethoven appeared in profound conversation and music making. I have heard the famous pianists play these sonatas decades ago, but nothing as original and profound as yours.
Follow Michael’s Thoughts on the Sonatas
As Michael works on the sonatas for his concerts in 2015, he has been tweeting his thoughts on Beethoven. Follow him on Twitter to get a fly-on-the-wall look into his practice studio.
(You do not have to have a twitter account to read these pages - they are completely public. Just press to the left of any pop-up box trying to get you to join and you can read it as any web-page.)
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