By Jessica Duchen

The mystery of Beethoven's lost love – Immortal Beloved.

Friday, 15 November 2019

State of play...

Dear friends and supporters,

Welcome to the latest Friday update on IMMORTAL. News of the book continues to be excellent - funding now stands at 101 per cent and it is lovely to note that new pledges have arrived every single week since launch. Do note, please, that just because the 100 per cent mark has been reached, the fundraising drive is not actually finished. Any monies over and above the target level are extremely useful, helping to fund, for example, matters like a suitable image from a picture library for the front cover (these can cost a good bit). 

(Above: the Immortal Beloved letter itself)

This book is turning into a humdinger. I am about 4/5 of the way through the first draft, but about 50,000 words over our suggested target length. One kind supporter said to me "Take as many words as you need," but I reckon the trick is not to take more than you need. At second draft stage I'll spend a lot of time pruning it back (working over Christmas, anyone? I am), but even after that I doubt that this will be a slender volume you can slip into your back pocket for a bus journey. A book concerning the explosion of 19th-century romanticism deserves a 19th-century scale.

I'm also working gradually on plans for a narrated concert based on IMMORTAL. My pianist colleague Viv McLean and I will be performing this from next May - dates to follow - and there is also a chamber version involving a singer, a pianist, and a string quartet - with some exciting concerts in the pipeline. This script is going to need one heck of a lot of work, and there is a heap of music to choose from. The awkward thing about Beethoven is that everything is good and most of it is relevant (with the exception of some commercial crap he wrote around the time of the Congress of Vienna, but never mind that).

Word has seeped out, too, that I'm living and breathing Beethoven at the moment, so I have some commissions for articles. Here's one, from Universal's Udiscovermusic website, introducing the piano sonatas; more will be out here and elsewhere in due course...

Next, imminent dates for your concert diaries: the Budapest Festival Orchestra and its condutor Iván Fischer are coming to London for a series at the Barbican in which they will perform all the piano concertos with Sir András Schiff. The first two concerts are on 29 and 30 November and also include generous portions of Dvorák alongside, respectively, "Luigi"'s fourth and fifth piano concertos. I'll be at the second of these - do drop me a line if you're coming along and have a chance to say hello.

Perhaps the best news of all is that even after months of total immersion, I am still madly in love with this composer and his music. Here is a favourite of mine to brighten a cold, wet Friday - performed in a gloriously old-fashioned, big-hearted, long-breathed way by the Vienna Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein in 1978 in Vienna's Musikverein. Enjoy.

Love and best wishes,

Jessica x

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