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Apr. 2022 | Beethoven's Eroica and Beethoven's Violin Concerto with Sophie Lee

On April 24th we present violinist Yesong Sophie Lee.

In 40 years of conducting and mentoring students, Sophie is quite literally the greatest child prodigy I have worked with in my entire career. No longer a child, she has now become an international star. Her recent solo engagements include performances with the London Philharmonia, Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestre des Cameristi de la Scala, and the Detroit Symphony.

She is performing on the 1687 "Ex-Bello” Stradivarius on generous loan from Rare Violins In Consortium Artists and Benefactors Collaborative.

Beethoven revolutionized the concerto form with his Violin Concerto. Before this, the concerto served merely as a vehicle for the performer to show off his/her technical skills. The music itself tended to be lighter and less interesting than pieces for full orchestra. Previous concertos were relatively short pieces to be performed in conjunction with other symphonic works. Beethoven's Violin Concerto is nearly an hour in length. It is a major symphonic work in its own right with substantive and profound musical material for the entire orchestra in addition to wonderful passages for the solo violin.

With the Eroica Symphony, Beethoven did exactly the same thing, absolutely revolutionizing the concept of a symphony. Before this, a symphony was relatively light entertainment, usually lasted about 20 minutes, and often was performed during festivities or even during meals. The Eroica is roughly twice as long as any Symphony that existed at that time. It is a much more serious entity including formal fugal sections, extensive musical development and variations, plus a complete funeral march. From this piece onward, the symphony became the major showcase for any orchestra.

Beethoven probably did more to advance European music than any other composer in history. His Eroica was considered the most ground-breaking and the greatest symphony ever written for many years. Yes, the Ninth, with the Ode to Joy, is a larger work, but the Eroica is the piece that blew apart the Classical era and ushered in the Romantic with all its drama and bombast.

We will begin this concert with a heartfelt rendition of the Ukrainian National Anthem.


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