Ventura Music Festival’s “Virtually Yours” celebrates the composer’s 250th birthday

Beethoven’s electric guitar

by Richard Newsham, VMF consultant

Beethoven unleashed a musical revolution when he began creating music tailored to the piano rather than the harpsichord.

Like Bob Dylan’s shocking move from acoustic to electric guitar, Beethoven—over a lifetime of composing 32 ground-breaking piano sonatas—totally remade the form for the modern instrument.

His imagination was sparked by the 1800s’ transformation of piano technology and design.

The piano had more keys for both bass and treble than the harpsichord and a sustaining pedal that “opened up fresh possibilities of resonance, dynamic range and attack.”

Beethoven’s “inner ear” conceived music that existed even beyond these technological advances—full of physical intensity that shocked his contemporaries to stark, inscrutable and montage-like pieces that compel 21st century listeners to agree with Chuck Berry’s lyrics: “Roll over Beethoven, gotta hear it again today!”

And so VMF is celebrating his coming 250th birthday by presenting 10 sonatas in a cycle over 8 weeks.

Two “Virtually Yours” concert-programs introduced by VMF Artistic Director Nuvi Mehta will each feature two Beethoven sonatas performed by pianist Adam Golka, including the celebrated Appassionata and Pathetique.

VMF’s “Music Connects” digital series will roll out the remaining six sonatas – one per week, starting December 17 when Beethoven officially turns 250.

The celebrated pianist Adam Golka will also be interviewed and has created video commentaries for each sonata, featuring a leading physicist, poet, artist and the like on their unique relationship to the music.

“Virtually Yours” Dates & Times: Sundays at 4pm on 11/15 and 11/22.

Admission is free thanks to sponsor underwriting. Each program is viewable for one week. Reservations are required at Registrants will be sent links to Zoom or other selected platform.

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