Saturday, March 01, 2008

Getting deeply into Beethoven

The Curtis Institute of Music is doing a fascinating bit of innovation this term. They have decided to build the curriculum around a single work: Beethoven's 11th string quartet in F minor (Op. 95). All the string players are playing it solo and in every kind of ensemble. History and literature are centered around biographies that mention the work and Beethoven's and others' letters written about it or at the time it was written. There's a strong effort to get all the students immersed into Vienna at that moment, to understand the cultural, political and musical scenes. The finale will be a string orchestra performance (there are several transcriptions extant). Most of the students are thrilled with the innovation -- though the wind players are feeling a little left out.

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