NYU Steinhardt’s piano studies program will host Beethoven The Contemporary – a virtual festival commemorating the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth.

To commemorate the 250th anniversary of German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth, the piano studies program at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development will host a five-week virtual festival from November 11 through Beethoven’s birthday on December 18. The festival, titled Beethoven the Contemporary, will include a series of lectures, masterclasses and performances featuring NYU Steinhardt faculty, students, alumni, and internationally renowned scholars and performers.

While the lectures and performances will be completely virtual, the masterclasses will take place in-person – following COVID-19 safety guidelines – with two pianos and a very small audience. All masterclasses will involve 3-4 students playing for the “master” teacher, and receiving a public critique on technique, interpretation, and expression. The sessions will be recorded and aired during the festival as a public lesson.

“Our piano studies program at NYU Steinhardt is so excited to pay tribute to Beethoven by hosting this virtual festival in his honor,” said Marilyn Nonken, associate professor of music and the director of piano studies at NYU Steinhardt. “In addition to demonstrating his contemporaneity, we thought it was particularly important to demonstrate his music’s unique power to bring us together is times of crisis. His music has stood the test of time and triumphed some of the most difficult moments in history. We hope this is reflected throughout the festival.”

A breakdown of all the events, co-curated by Nonken and Eteri Andjaparidze, an internationally acclaimed pianist and a member of the artist faculty in piano studies at NYU Steinhardt, are included below. All events are free and open to the public.

The Art of Piano with John Wilson: Beethoven, Building I (Lecture)
Wednesday, Nov. 11 from 2:30-4 p.m.

Live from Vienna, Austria, John D. Wilson, author of Young Beethoven, Beethoven in Context (Cambridge 2021) and the multivolume series Music at the Bonn Electoral Court (Bonn 2018-2021), will discuss the genres of bagatelle, rondo, fantasy, sonata, and variation.

Collegium with Peter Takács: Recording the 32 Sonatas (Discussion and Q&A)
Friday, Nov. 13 from 2-3:30 p.m.

Peter Takács, of the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, will discuss the process of preparing and recording Beethoven’s renowned complete edition. After the discussion, Takács will host a Q&A with attendees.

Hailed by the New York Times as “a marvelous pianist,” Takács has performed and recorded the complete cycle of Beethoven Piano Sonatas (Cambria Master Recordings, 2011) to critical acclaim. In the 2015-16 season, he performed three sold-out recitals at Carnegie Hall entitled The Beethoven Experience, inaugurating the Key Pianists series. His recording of Beethoven’s cello sonatas and variations with Robert DeMaine is a 2020 release.

Collegium with John Wilson: The Bonn Years (Lecture)
Friday, Nov. 13 from 3:30-5 p.m.

Live from Vienna, the musicologist will offer a lecture about Beethoven’s formative years. In addition to authoring the previously mentioned pieces, Wilson studied piano, composition, and musicology at Baylor University and at the University for Music and Performing Arts, Vienna. The recipient of multiple grants from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), he has established himself as a leading authority on Beethoven. He is also the author of coming articles on Beethoven for the Oxford Bibliographies Online and Grove Music.

Eteri Andjaparidze: All-Beethoven Artist Masterclass (Masterclass)
Monday, Nov. 16 from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Andjaparidze has gained acclaim as a multifaceted artist and insightful pedagogue. During her masterclass, she will work with students in NYU Steinhardt’s piano studies program on aspects of technique, expression, and interpretation in Beethoven’s solo piano music.

In addition to teaching on the piano faculty at NYU Steinhardt, Andjaparidze teaches at the Mannes School of Music and conducts masterclasses worldwide. She has served as head of keyboard programs and professor of piano at DePaul University in Chicago, the State University of New York, the Moscow and Tbilisi State Conservatoires and as visiting professor at Xi’an and Foshan Conservatories in China. Separately, Andjaparidze has appeared around the globe in solo and collaborative recitals and as a guest soloist with major orchestras. Her discography released on Naxos, Marco Polo, and Melodia labels includes Grammy and Deutsche Schallplatten nominated solo albums.

The Art of Piano with John Wilson: Beethoven, Building II (Lecture)
Wednesday, Nov. 18 from 2:30-4 p.m.

Live from Vienna, musicologist John Wilson will discuss Beethoven’s symphonies and piano concertos.

Collegium with John Wilson: Beethoven and Thomas Mann: Beethoven and Thomas Mann (Lecture)
Friday, Nov. 20 from 3:30-5 p.m.

This fourth lecture by Wilson will focus on Beethoven's last Sonata Op. 111 and Thomas Mann’s novel “Doctor Faustus.” In his novel, Mann gives what is arguably the most poetic verbal account of Beethoven's work. He states that “Beethoven’s art had overgrown itself, risen out of habitable regions of tradition” and also suggests that this opus signals the end of the classical sonata form itself. Wilson will discuss and offer his own review of these works. Sonata Op. 111 will be performed on December 11 by Andjaparidze.

Jeffrey Swann: All-Beethoven Artist Masterclass (Masterclass)
Tuesday, Nov. 24 from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Jeffrey Swann, an artist faculty member in the piano program at NYU Steinhardt, has enjoyed an international performing career which has taken him throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia. He won first prize in the Dino Ciani Competition sponsored by La Scala in Milan, a gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and top honors at the Warsaw Chopin, Van Cliburn, Vianna da Motta and Montreal Competitions, as well as the Young Concert Artists auditions in New York City. His large and varied repertoire includes more than 60 concertos as well as solo works ranging from Bach to Boulez.

During this masterclass, Swann will work with students in NYU Steinhardt’s piano studies program on interpretation, technique, and expression in Beethoven’s solo piano works.

Ode to Form: Beethoven (Masterclass)
Tuesday, Dec. 1 from 8-9:30 p.m.

Pianists from the Studio of Eteri Andjaparidze will explore Beethoven’s innovative approach to form, in relation to the sonata, fantasia, variations set, prelude, and rondo. The program can be viewed HERE.

All by Himself: Beethoven (Performance)
Friday, Dec. 4 from 8-9 p.m.

Together, Eduardus Halim, the Sascha Goroditzki Music Professor of Piano Studies at NYU Steinhardt, and TianYi Li, an alumnus of the piano studies program and Halim’s former student, will perform the epic “Waldstein” sonata and “Diabelli” variations. The program can be viewed HERE.

Known as both a performer and a pedagogue, Halim has appeared with such orchestra as the Baltimore Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Malaysian Philharmonic, and the Russian National Orchestra. He has given recitals at Alice Tully Hall and the 92nd Street Y in New York and at the Kennedy Center in Washington. His awards and honors including the Young Concert Artists International Auditions as well as the Avery Fisher Career Grant. Halim's recordings include Presenting Eduardus Halim: A Program of Piano Transcriptions, on the Arabesque label and two discs on the Reservoir Studio Productions label, one featuring the works of Granados and the other devoted to Chopin.

A native of Shenzhen, China, TianYi Li was born with a rare heart condition and a weak immune system that forced him to stay away from school for most of his childhood. Thus, piano became one of his only friends. After winning several piano competitions in China, and with a healthier body, TianYi went abroad to study in the United States in his early teens, at Professional Children’s School in New York City, knowing practically no English. Within six years, he had finished his high school and undergraduate curricula, graduating cum laude from NYU Steinhardt, where he studied piano with Eduardus Halim. During this time, TianYi was awarded Third Prize alongside three other special prizes at the 2017 Tbilisi International Piano Competition, only five months after undergoing an open-heart surgery. After finishing his Master of Music studies at the Juilliard School in 2020, he was accepted by the school’s C.V. Starr Doctoral Program, and will be pursuing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree under the guidance of Jerome Lowenthal.

Perfect Truths: Beethoven & Ives (Performance)
Tuesday, Dec. 8 from 8-9:30 p.m.

Nonken and Swann perform the legendary “Hammerklavier” and “Concord” sonatas. The program can be viewed HERE.

Constant Influence: Beethoven & Prokofiev (Performance)
Friday, Dec. 11 from 8-9:30 p.m.

Andjaparidze and Markus Kaitila, an alumnus of the piano studies and Andjaparidze’s former student, will play late sonatas of Beethoven and Sergey Prokofiev. The program can be viewed HERE.

Kaitila has appeared as a soloist with the Joutseno Art Summer, Wratislavia, St. Peter’s Festival, Queens College, and Jackson Heights chamber orchestras as well as the One World and New Amsterdam Symphony orchestras, under conductors such as Tong Chen and Charles Neidich. He has also conducted Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in E Major, from the piano at LeFrak Concert Hall (New York) in 2016. He won Bronze Prize in the 2nd WPTA Finland International Piano Competition 2020 and First Prize at the Köhler-Osbahr piano competition (Duisburg) in 2013. Additionally, he has won First and Second Prizes in national chamber music competitions (Juvenalia, E. Melartin) and remains an active chamber musician.

“Trifles?”: Bagatelles by Beethoven, Couperin, Liszt, Sibelius, Bartók, Ferguson, Bolcom, Tsontakis, & Ryabov (Performance)
Tuesday, Dec. 15 from 8-9:30 p.m.

Current piano studies students at NYU’s Steinhardt School will present a program of bagatelles, including the earliest Baroque examples of the genre as well as contemporary compositions. More information about the students and performance is available HERE.

Happy Birthday to Ludwig! (Performance)
Friday, Dec. 18 from 8-9:30 p.m.

Piano Studies alumni Markus Kaitila and Hannah Harnest, a former student of Marilyn Nonken, the director of piano studies, will perform Beethoven’s compositions for four hands. The selection is viewable HERE.

Harnest has played both as a concerto soloist in Europe, under Marzio Conti and Daniel Grossmann, and as a chamber musician and vocal accompanist, appearing at the “Gasteig” Philharmonic Hall (Munich), Wigmore Hall (London), Center for Jewish History and National Sawdust (New York), Harris Concert Hall (Aspen), and the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson). An invited resident at international festivals including Songfest Los Angeles (2019), Aspen Music Festival (2018), Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts (2016), and Encuentro de Música y Academia de Santander (2015), Hannah Harnest was a semi-finalist at Das Lied (Heidelberg) and the Wigmore Hall Song Competition (London).

About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
Located in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media and psychology. Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School's mission has been to expand human capacity through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice. To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit steinhardt.nyu.edu.

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