For the anniversary of the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven in 2020, Bonn pianist Susanne Kessel invites composers from around the world to compose piano pieces which refer to Ludwig van Beethoven and his work.
She writes: "As a citizen of Bonn, I walk daily through the same streets where Beethoven once roamed. In view of the 250th anniversary of his birth in 2020, which will be celebrated worldwide, the desire arose inside me to offer a great gift to him. Something that will engage many musicians, something to last. (...)
The piano was Beethoven’s main instrument; besides the great sonatas he also loved short piano pieces which he called Bagatelles. The idea of a contemporary “collection of musical ideas” with short piano pieces was, therefore, a natural progression. For the occasion, I envisioned 250 piano pieces by 250 composers, casting a new light upon Beethoven’s works.
With this in mind, I began personally inviting composers to write a piano piece relating to Beethoven. Because of the large number of compositions that I would need to also rehearse and which I want to premiere in Bonn, I had to start early with this long-term project. It is heading for Beethoven’s birthday in December 2020 as a “work in progress”."
My contribution to this impressive project, Wiesengrund, was written to celebrate Beethovens music and its effect on music history. For me, the best way to do that was to write a piano piece to the best of my abilities in which I tried to translate the great contrasts and the sublime character of his music to my own music within a timespan of four minutes. As the slow movement of Opus 111, my piece is built up as a series of variations, but without a real theme. And although I didn’t intend to quote any of his compositions, suddenly the main motive of the Arietta appeared. I tried to use many Beethovenian emotions: robust, lyrical, stillness, contrasts of register, etc., in short, the whole meadow, where we composer-sheep are grazing for nearly two centuries.
Ivo van Emmerik introducing Wiesengrund (2015) at the first performance in Bonn, 25 February 2016. Left: Susanne Kessel
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