Beethoven and...Robert and Clara Schumann
Friday, 13 September 2019
Today is the 200th anniversary of Clara Schumann's birth. I was looking for a portrait of her to put on my blog, JDCMB, and found that she had been painted as a young woman by the same artist who created the portrait of Beethoven that we use in the IMMORTAL introductory video: a gentleman named Granger.
Here it is:
When Beethoven died, Clara was eight years old, and Robert Schumann sixteen…
Why IMMORTAL? Why fiction? Why now?
Friday, 6 September 2019
The other day I was in a London music library, trawling the Beethoven shelf. My goodness, but there's a lot of writing about him. Some of the books were published in the early part of the 20th century - topics such as, to paraphrase, "Beethoven is all about strength" (disconcerting in view of what was happening in the late 20s to 30s); others involve up-to-the-minute scholarship with tables of…
A composer for our testing times
Friday, 30 August 2019
At the moment, watching the heinous goings-on that pass for running our country, it would be easy to despair and to think that writing a novel about a 19th-century composer is a futile distraction. Fortunately, though, our composer is Beethoven - and there is no better music to bolster idealism, determination and resilience than he.
Have a listen to his Egmont Overture, played at the Proms…
Friday, 23 August 2019
With the Beethoven 250th anniversary coming up next year, just about every opera company I can think of is preparing to stage Fidelio, and plentiful orchestras are planning concert performances. It is the only opera Beethoven wrote - or at least, the only one he completed.
He started another, earlier, entitled Vestas Feuer, set in ancient Rome. The libretto was by Schikaneder (of The Magic…
Did he really?
Friday, 16 August 2019
Here's a little truism for a Friday lunchtime. Our sheer reverence towards the great composers of the past sometimes interferes with our understanding of their work. Occasionally it even affects performances of them. Do you agree?
Last year I undertook a project for BBC Music Magazine, comparing recordings of Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" Sonata and choosing the "best" (I use inverted commas with…
Flying start, barefoot
Sunday, 4 August 2019
Dear friends and supporters,
Thank you so much for your generous pledges! IMMORTAL is off to a flying start - 28 per cent funded after just five days - and I couldn't be happier. (Well, I could if it was 100 per cent, but y'know... this is really good.) It's incredibly encouraging and I value the moral support as much as the actual £ - because it means that you want this book, which means I…