Having played this concert twice in the past week, once at the Art Museum at Indiana University Bloomington, and once at Queens College, CUNY, I am excited that you too will be able to hear it. Titled “Then and Now, a concert of baroque music and contemporary music for baroque instruments”, it will take place tomorrow night, Friday October 18, at 8:00 PM at Kellogg Music Center at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. The musicians are Eva Legêne, recorder, Tatsuya Muraishi, violin, Masayuki Maki, harpsichord and myself on viola da gamba. Admission is free.
One day Beethoven got up and went to the house of Dorothea Ertmann, a woman he clearly loved. Her child had died. She had lost her ability to speak. The composer sat at the fortepiano and played for her a concert of late Beethoven that no one else will ever hear. She began to speak. Beethoven thought of music as a changer of things—a power—at its most powerful, a healer. The tale insists that Beethoven spoke no word to Dorothea. Anecdote? There is good evidence. And think of that other more important evidence—the motto he wrote at the top of the Missa Solemnis: “from the heart, may it go to the heart.” Think of the fundamental importance that actual physical sound had for Beethoven, how he relates in the Heiligenstadt Testament that losing his ability to hear made him suicidal. (Think of this also the next time you hear an expert say that he can hear the Beethoven 9th better reading the score than he can in the concert hall.) What healed Dorothea was a performance. The whole occasion was about sound. She made none, Beethoven made the sacred sounds; she spoke.