Beethoven Plus is an exciting project, the creation of which led directly from Krysia Osostowicz and Daniel Tong’s knowledge and experience of working together on Beethoven’s ten sonatas for violin and piano. Krysia and Daniel had the idea of giving this Beethoven cycle a new dimension by inviting ten composers to write a short companion piece – each about 5 minutes long – inspired by one of Beethoven’s sonatas. These new pieces, heard together with the original sonatas, create conversations between living composers and Beethoven, and shed new light on what Beethoven’s music means to us today.
The composers of the new companion pieces are: Peter Ash, Judith Bingham, Elspeth Brooke, Jonathan Dove, David Matthews, Kurt Schwertsik, Matthew Taylor, Jeremy Thurlow, Philip Venables and Huw Watkins.
All all the new commissions have now been performed several times having been premiered as part of a complete Beethoven Plus cycle at Kings Place in London in May and October 2015, and further complete cycles since then in Aberdeen, Bristol Sheffield and Cambridge. Krysia and Daniel plan to take these Beethoven Plus programmes to more concert venues, music societies and festivals in the UK and abroad in the coming seasons.
The format is flexible:
a single recital of three Beethoven sonatas, with one or more of their companion pieces
the whole cycle: either as a series of four evening recitals through the season, as a series of five lunchtime/coffee concerts, or else all together in a Beethoven Plus weekend
- a single recital including just one of Beethoven’s sonatas with its companion piece, together with sonatas by other composers such as Mozart and Faure
Full programme details are available here. Other related Beethoven Plus events could include:
- a pre-concert discussion with the composers of the new pieces
- a recital/workshop session for schoolchildren, introducing them to Beethoven’s world and encouraging them to create companion pieces of their own
- a competition for young composers at music colleges and universities, inviting them to submit new companion pieces for Beethoven’s sonatas: the winning pieces will subsequently be included in Krysia and Daniel’s recitals
Beethoven Plus is generously funded by the Arts Council, the PRS Music Foundation, the RVW Trust, the Holst Foundation, the Hinrichsen Foundation and the Radcliffe Trust. Krysia and Daniel were fascinated to see the new pieces emerging, and are now enjoying bringing them to life. They hope that Beethoven’s sonatas will form a helpful starting-point for audiences to engage with the new companion pieces; although it’s possible that Beethoven himself may come across as the most innovative composer of them all. Krysia and Daniel also look forward to continuing to take Beethoven Plus to schools and colleges, giving young people an insight into how composers work, together with the excitement of hearing Beethoven’s music in live performance.