Beethoven’s 250th in Colombo

In 2020, Germany will celebrate the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven, arguably her most famous citizen, with the whole world. The Chamber Music Society of Colombo in association with the Goethe-Institut, Colombo, will begin the year long celebration of the Meastro’s music with a concert on the 26th of January at the Goethe-Institut Hall. The concert will be devoted to the Bonnmeister’s chamber music. Sonatas, trios and his much neglected vocal music will be presented.

Beethoven’s Piano Trio Op. 1 No. 1 (written for piano, violin and cello) was first performed in 1795 in the palace of Prince Lichnowsky, to whom it is dedicated. The trio was published in 1795. Despite the Op. 1, No. 1 designation, this trio was not Beethoven’s first composition; this distinction belongs rather to his Dressler Variations for keyboard (WoO 63). However, he clearly recognized this composition as the earliest one he had produced that was substantial enough (and marketable enough) to fill out a first major publication to introduce his style of writing to his peers and the public.

Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Major, Op. 12: Beethoven learned to play the violin as a child and mastered the piano as an adult. His intense understanding of both instruments, and ability to combine them with remarkable innovation and originality, is heard in the ten sonatas he wrote for the combination.

In this concert, we will hear the vivacious first sonata, where you will hear the Violin and Piano engaging in an absorbing and diverse discourse.

It would probably come as a surprise to most classical music lovers to learn that the folksong arrangements form the largest body of work produced by the Master of Bonn, it is in fact true. There are over 160 of them. And most of these are arrangements of Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and British songs. The idea for these folksong arrangements came from a Scotsman named George Thomson (1757-1851) of Edinburgh. Thayer in his classic biography of Beethoven tells us that Thomson “distinguished himself by tastes and acquirements which led to an appointment to the ‘Board of Trustees for the Encouragement of Arts and Manufacture in Scotland.’ He was, especially, a promoter of all good music and an earnest reviver of ancient Scottish melody.” To this end he engaged some of Europe’s foremost composers, Haydn, Pleyel, and Beethoven, to compose instrumental sonatas and song arrangements using Scottish melodies.

This concert will feature a selection that were written for voice and piano trio, the songs will be announced from the stage.

Performing will be principals of the CMSC, Ramya Perera, piano, Sulara Nanayakkara, violin,  Saranga Cooray, cello, Harin Amirthanathan, tenor. The concert will be moderated by the Artistic director of the CMSC, Lakshman Joseph-de Saram.