90 minutes, spoken in English, Dutch, French, and German, with English subtitles.
This film is a work-in-progress. We’re offering it as a sneak preview. Any distribution is strictly prohibited.
In August 1803, Beethoven ordered a piano in the shape of a harpsichord from Erard Frères in Paris. How did this French instrument affect him as a pianist-composer? And why, within the first year of his new ownership, did he have it altered so drastically? A new replica of Beethoven’s piano suggests concrete answers. Interwoven through this lecture-demonstration by Tom Beghin are interviews with piano maker Chris Maene, organologist Robert Adelson, musicologist Jeanne Roudet, historian Jacques-Olivier Boudon, and restorer-curator Stephan Gschwendtner.
Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata, Op. 53, is considered a pinnacle of Viennese classicism. Yet it owed so much to his new French piano. Originally, Beethoven envisioned his Grande sonate to have four movements instead of the three (or two) that were eventually published. Playing a replica of Beethoven’s 1803 Erard Frères piano en forme de clavecin, Tom Beghin reconstructs Op. 53’s long version (its “director’s cut,” so to speak), while bringing Beethoven’s French experiments to the fore.
Cut from the lecture-documentary, this segment addresses the first notated use of una corda by Beethoven in the slow movement of his Piano Concerto no. 4, Op. 58, and connects Beethoven’s assumed fascination with the una corda spring in his Erard Frères piano to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.
Background: Chris Maene’s replica of Beethoven’s 1803 Erard piano (Photo: Pieter Peeters)