Unraveling Beethoven: Beyond the Canon
Reanimating Beethoven’s 10 Violin Sonatas in the 21st Century
About this project
As part of our ongoing, lifelong engagement with the Beethoven Violin Sonatas, we think a lot about how we hear these works, and the things we notice–not just on repeated hearings, but also with 21st century ears and sensibilities. To de-canonize, undress, and humanize a figure like E.T.A. Hoffman’s heroic Beethoven is paradoxical; we seek a new image for “Beethoven” in our post-canonic age, yet in so doing we reanimate this figure in a different way. We are writing a new chapter in our ongoing relationship with this music.
The motivation for this project is about coming to grips with the concept of the ‘Classic’ from the various standpoints of performer, composer, and listener. What does it mean for creative artists to work alongside the specter of classic works? How do we hear these works now, and what have they become in our 21st century world? Do listeners recognize a canonic, classic work as such, or are we now in fresh, fertile soil for these works in our culture? These are questions that our project seeks to open and to investigate.
Our culture values originality, though we have also inherited a canon of classics and all of the expectations that accompany anything associated with the canon. This project seeks to undress and unravel those expectations a bit, and to learn more about their origins. We want to have our cake and eat it too; we want to move beyond the canon and into the 21st century, and we want to take Beethoven with us.