Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Beethoven’s Complete Works for Piano and Violin Take Center Stage


Beethoven’s complete sonatas for piano and violin take center stage in a series of four chamber concert presented this fall by Dr. Ben Sung, Assistant Professor of Violin, and Dr. David Kalhous, Assistant Professor of Piano. Sung and Kalhous both arrived at Florida State University’s College of Music in 2011. With studios across the hall from each other, they quickly discovered they were kindred musical spirits, and they have performed with each other several times each year since. Completing an entire chamber series together, however, was a new idea. “I forget if he or I brought up the idea of a Beethoven cycle first, but when I realized that he was crazy enough to do it, I jumped on the chance,” Sung jokingly reflected.

In the world of classical music, Beethoven occupies a mythic space: a defiant, heroic, and Romantic figure, his music continues to dominate concerts and recitals and commands significant attention in the training of all musicians at serious collegiate music programs, such as the one at Florida State University. Asked what he finds most satisfying about playing Beethoven’s music, Sung notes, “The stereotyped answer to this question is that Beethoven's music transcends the limitations that hold back other composers.” Yet at the same time, Sung recognizes “the joy of pure creativity” in Beethoven’s music and the power of the music to speak across generations, between performers and audiences, and among musicians themselves. Hearing his own undergraduate violin professor, Oleh Krysa, play the Beethoven cycle in recital remains one of Sung’s enduring musical memories. 

Although Beethoven had composed 8 of the 10 violin sonatas by 1803, by which time he had only composed his first symphony and nearly half of his string quartets, Sung believes that these relatively early works nevertheless “embody Beethoven’s whole musical persona,” from the humorous and tender, to the cataclysmic and transcendent. Audience members have the opportunity to hear for themselves the many sides of Beethoven’s complex musical character as the series starts this week.

The four performances are scheduled for October 12 (Longmire Recital Hall), October 27 (Opperman Music Hall), November 7 (Longmire), and December 2 (Longmire). All performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. The recital on October 27 is part of the UMA Concert Series and is a ticketed event; all others are free and open to the public.

For ticket information for October 27, please contact the College of Music Box Office at 850-645-7949.