Beethoven Online: HSE University Resumes Saturday Concerts
An online event dedicated to the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven was held as part of HSE University’s A University Open to the City project. The event’s online format made it possible to include not only musical fragments, but also detailed comments from experts. In particular, they discussed whether our current times under the conditions of the pandemic have anything in common with the time in which the great composer lived.
The online marathon ‘Beethoven is 250!’ was held on Saturday, October 24th. It was moderated by Marina Lebed, Head of HSE University Centre of Music Projects, and Kristina Agaronyan, the centre Manager.
Saturday concerts, one of which took place on October 24th, are part of the University Open to the City project. We invite people not just from HSE University; half of the audience traditionally includes participants of the Moscow Longevity programme, who are very grateful and are well-versed in classical music,’ said Marina Lebed to the HSE University News Service.
At first, we envisioned something like a virtual music lounge, with live music streaming and a discussion. But then we felt sorry for the musicians, whom we would have to put in an empty hall. After tuning their instruments, they would have to play to empty chairs. And that’s why we decided that we would listen to recordings and talk more about music. Moreover, we managed to assemble incredible speakers, all in one place at the same time. Therefore, I think we have fulfilled our mission.
The guests at the Saturday concert included Larisa Kirillina, Doctor of Art History, Professor of the Moscow Conservatory and Russia’s leading Beethoven scholar; Roman Nasonov, PhD in Art History, Associate Professor of the Moscow Conservatory; Tigran Alikhanov, National Artist of Russia pianist; Maria Bulgakova, singer and composer; and Natalia Surnalia, musicologist and press secretary of the Moscow Philharmonic.
Responding to the question of whether extreme events similar to today’s pandemic happened during Beethoven's time, Larisa Kirillina remarked that almost the entire life of the composer passed against a backdrop of wars and military campaigns, and he can therefore truly be called a ‘wartime composer’. Beethoven's move to Vienna was an escape from the war, but an unsuccessful one: the Austrian capital was twice occupied by French troops by 1815. The third, ‘Eroica’ symphony, an excerpt of which was performed by the Bavarian Radio Orchestra under the direction of Mariss Jansons, was first dedicated to Napoleon, in whom the composer saw a ‘superman’, but subsequently lost this dedication.
We talked about Beethoven's Russian connections with Tigran Alikhanov, an outstanding pianist, whose repertoire includes all the composer’s piano sonatas. Several years ago, he performed at HSE University, and is therefore familiar to regular listeners of the ‘Professors' Wednesdays’ series. We remembered the Russian patrons and commissioners of Beethoven's works - princes Razumovsky and Golitsyn, the legendary premiere of the composer's Solemn Mass in St. Petersburg. The October 24th event included a recording of the rarely performed Polonaise, which Beethoven dedicated to Elizaveta Alekseevna, the wife of Emperor Alexander I, a connoisseur of fine music and an admirer of the composer's talent.
‘Beethoven is one of the most performed composers, including at the Moscow Philharmonic,’ said Natalia Surnina, press secretary of the Philharmonic. In the 1930s, criticism was even heard that there was too much of his music in the Philharmonic’s repertoire. However, there cannot be too much Beethoven in his jubilee year: the New Russia Orchestra under the direction of Yuri Bashmet, for example, has released season ticket series that feature all of Beethoven's symphonies and all of his instrumental works; all recordings are uploaded to the Philharmonic's video library. In the remaining two months, we are expecting many more interesting concerts, where Beethoven's music will be played.
Established in 2007, the HSE University Centre of Music Projects has hosted a wide array of leading Russian musicians including singers Albina Shagimuratova and Yana Ivanilova; Mark Pekarsky’s Percussion Ensemble and Friedrich Lips' Piazzolla-Studio; cellists Alexander Rudin, Boris Andrianov and Alexander Ramm; pianists Alexey Lyubimov, Alexey Nabiulin and Yakov Katsnelson; The Glinka State String Quartet and the Brass Quintet of the Russian National Orchestra; and guitarists Dmitry Illarionov and Artem Dervoed.
Recording of ‘Beethoven is 250!’ online marathon
In December 2016, an orchestra was formed at HSE whose musicians include both lecturers and students – and not only from HSE. The artists, who are mastering a broad repertoire from classical operas to film soundtracks, are preparing to play at non-university venues and are inviting new participants to join them.
Evgenia Kondrashina graduated with honours from the International College of Economics and Finance (ICEF) bachelor’s programme in 2005 before going on to receive her master’s from the London School of Economics. An excellent student, Evgenia for a long time thought that the next logical step would be a prestigious career at a top English consulting firm, but the idea of following in others’ footsteps doesn’t make everyone happy. Evgenia deviated from this trajectory and found herself in one of the world’s leading orchestras – the London Symphony Orchestra – where she continues to work today.
On 17th June in the Professors Hall at HSE Ilya Mochalov, second year Politics student at HSE and fourth year music student at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, gave a solo piano concert. Ilya has won a number of Russian and international prizes at music festivals and competitions. At the concert he played works by his favourite composer, Sergei Rakhmaninov.
On December 5, the Higher School of Economics hosted the Piano Evening for Two. The event lasted two hours, during which time Michel Grabisch, Professor of Computer Sciences at University Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne, and Sergei Erofeev, Vice Rector of HSE, performed compositions by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Ravel and Bach.