NEW YORK, NEW YORK (March 18, 2020) — As more and more of this year’s highly anticipated Beethoven celebrations are being curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic, renowned Beethoven interpreter Jonathan Biss brings the composer’s piano sonatas to listeners in their homes through a free, live-streamed recital (planned for Thursday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. EDT), a newly released set of recordings, an Amazon Kindle Single e-book, and an expansive series of online talks—recently completed and currently available for free via Coursera. Through such projects, which are part of Mr. Biss’s decade-long immersion in the composer’s music, especially the piano sonatas, audiences around the world may continue celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday this year in a variety of ways outside of the concert hall.
As of January 2020—seven years after its launch—Mr. Biss’s Coursera course Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas offers lectures on all 32 works, and these lessons serve to complement his complete, nine-disc, nine-year recording cycle of this repertoire, to be released by Orchid Classics this Friday, March 20 (pre-orders available via Amazon). Each of the nine volumes is accompanied by liner notes from Mr. Biss, which offer commentary on the featured sonatas. In his 2011 e-book, Beethoven’s Shadow—the first Amazon Kindle Single to be written by a classical musician—Mr. Biss offers further insight into his lifelong relationship with the Beethoven sonatas and his motivations for recording them in full.
In addition to these on-demand options for engaging with Beethoven’s piano sonatas, a free, live video stream of Mr. Biss performing the last three sonatas—Op. 109 in E major, Op. 110 in A-flat major, and Op. 111 in C minor—is currently planned for the anniversary of the composer’s death next Thursday, March 26. Originally scheduled as a live, ticketed event at the 92nd Street Y’s Kaufmann Concert Hall, the recital will no longer accommodate a live audience, in accordance with public health directives. Inquiries from ticketholders should be directed to the 92nd Street Y (92Y.org). The planned live stream will be hosted here at 7:30 p.m. EDT the night of the performance.
Mr. Biss said:
“Music has played such a vital role in my life for so long, I cannot claim to be surprised at what a lifeline it—and Beethoven’s music, with its relentless idealism, in particular—has been for me these last few surreal, distressing weeks.
What I was less prepared for was the extent to which suddenly being unable to share music with people—at least not in the traditional ways—would contribute to my sense of loneliness and isolation. That is why I’ve never been so grateful to live in the internet age—to know that even in a time of crisis, just about anyone can still access those recordings, lectures, and writings, and most of all, that next week I will have the chance to play 65 minutes of the profoundest music ever written for music lovers everywhere.”