Thursday, May 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Kreutzer Sonata

One of LvB's most significant works, the Kreutzer violin sonata debuted on this date in 1803. Among other things, it inspired the famaous novella of that name by Tolstoy, which I have covered here in recent weeks by way of the stage play (which I saw in NY) and movie. In our new book, I briefly discuss the recent Rita Dove epic poem about George Bridgewater (the half-black violinist) and Beethoven inspired by an incident on this day. Here's a Wikipedia write-up and then video of the great Milstein.

"The sonata was originally dedicated to the violinist George Bridgetower (1778–1860), who performed it with Beethoven at the premiere on 24 May 1803 at the Augarten Theatre at a concert that started at the unusually early hour of 8:00 am. Bridgetower sight-read the sonata; he had never seen the work before, and there had been no time for any rehearsal. However, research indicates that after the performance, while the two were drinking, Bridgetower insulted the morals of a woman whom Beethoven cherished. Enraged, Beethoven removed the dedication of the piece, dedicating it instead to Rodolphe Kreutzer, who was considered the finest violinist of the day.However, Kreutzer never performed it, considering it "outrageously unintelligible."

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