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Beethoven's Birthday Concert

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
Enjoy up to 32 piano sonatas for the price of - whatever
A special concert is to be held in Birmingham to mark the 250th anniversary of one of history's greatest ever composers. Ludwig van Beethoven, who was born in December 1770, will be commemorated in style when 32 pianists will perform all 32 of his piano sonatas in chronological order, in a single day, at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire's Bradshaw Hall on February 18. The marathon event will begin at 10am and finish some 12 hours later at around 10pm. And, because audiences can stay for one sonata, or ten, or for all 32, audiences are being invited to 'pay what you like' on the door. The whole feat is then repeated at Ulverston Festival in the Lake District on March 27 and Chipping Campden Festival on Bank Holiday Monday, May 4.

Domonkos Csabay
Domonkos Csabay plays one of Beethoven's piano sonatas. Credit RJ Baddeley

The 32 pianists, who are all students at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University, illustrate the wealth of international talent currently studying in Birmingham, with performers from Taiwan, China, Japan, Israel and right across Europe, alongside those from the UK. Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire said, "'Royal Birmingham Conservatoire wanted to celebrate the Beethoven anniversary in a unique and special way. Having 32 different student pianists play all 32 of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas certainly fits the bill while at the same time demonstrating the remarkable strength in depth of RBC's Keyboard Department."

Yicheng Pan
Yicheng Pan to perform at marathon concert. Credit

The complete Beethoven sonatas cycle is an undertaking not often attempted and John Thwaites, Head of Keyboard Studies at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, believes this may be a first for a UK Conservatoire. So why does it work so well to perform them all in a single day? "Perhaps it's because it's an incredible journey, that not only puts such distance between start and finish, but takes in so many places along the way," he says. "Beethoven never repeats himself, there is a staggering degree of variety, and the depth and range of human understanding is comparable only to a figure like Shakespeare. Audiences may come and go between sonatas, but we hope some hardy souls will stay all day and be rewarded with an exceptional and immersive experience to cherish."

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Beethoven's 32 Sonatas is at The Bradshaw Hall, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, on Tuesday 18 February, 10am-10pm. Tickets are available on the door only with people able to pay what they like. For further information, visit or call 0121 331 5909. Following the final UK performance, 12 of the pianists, together with Professors John Thwaites and Pascal Nemirovski, will fly to Bolzano, Italy, to give the cycle collaboratively, sharing the sonatas between themselves and students in Italy at the Bolzano Concert Hall (home of the Busoni Competition).
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Why? All Beethoven's piano sonatas performed at the same time
When: February 18
Phone: 0121 331 5909
Where: Bradshaw Hall, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, 200 Jennens Road, Birmingham B4 7XR
Cost: Whatever you wish to pay
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