On Beethoven

Australian creatives talk about their unique relationship with Beethoven. 

“I hated all classical music as a kid. We were all forced to learn the piano from the knuckle-cracking nuns and I spent the requisite hours on repetitive scales and arpeggios in a vain attempt to minimise the knuckle-strike rate. Most of the early Czerny studies and AMEB pieces felt boring and joyless. Mozart was pretty and melodic, Hayden clean and formal, but they never made me feel anything.

But then along came Beethoven. The gateway sonata for many of us is, of course, the Moonlight’s slow movement because it is both amazingly emo but relatively easy to play. In fact, most of his slow movements can bring me to tears as the endless chains of diminished chords hit the heart in a place that no other composer remotely comes near.

We then studied the 'Eroica' at the Conservatorium and I fell in love with the symphonies. Running out of them, I moved on to the piano concertos and No.5 still packs a unique combo-pack of devastation and elation to this very day. And that’s why I love him. He is heavy metal, goth darkness wrapped in delicate melody.” 

- Paul Mac, Composer, songwriter, musician and producer

Glenn Christensen, ACO Violin

“I don’t listen or hear Beethoven, I feel Beethoven. His music to me is so evocative that I can visualise what I feel. Its visualisation is so clear it’s as if his work is a tangible object.

For example, Moonlight Sonata is monochromatic with a reflection of subtle light. Beethoven’s music captures my imagination, but it also touches my soul of thought.” 

- Akira Isogawa, Fashion designer

Satu Vänskä, ACO Principal Violin 

“What you are, you are by accident of birth; what I am, I am by myself. There are and will be a thousand princes; there is only one Beethoven.

And there is only one ACO. Beethoven spoke and composed music from the heart. Who better to bring his awe-inspiring, miraculous and mammoth musical works to life than the virtuosic, vivacious, daring, idiosyncratic, original and breathtakingly brilliant Richard Tognetti and clever co?

Fasten your emotional and psychological seatbelts as we’re in for a thrilling ride.”

- Kathy Lette, Author

Richard Tognetti, ACO Artistic Director

“Beethoven saved my sanity in 1989. It was my HSC and, seventeen, deranged with captivity, I would flee to my piano where immense, torrential, glorious chords let me slam them in splendid passion; the sweetest melancholies let me lie in their shallow pools; thrilling runs of notes threw themselves out the window. The Sonatas were hard, but life without them would have been harder.”  

- Kate Holden, Author

Julian Thompson, ACO Cello

“My mother was naturally musical so my childhood was filled with music, either with mum at her piano or whistling classical melodies, and of course listening to the ABC.

Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 blew me away until I heard the string quartets. While I enjoyed the piano concertos and symphonies, it was the intimacy of the quartets that enthralled me, especially my favourite, No. 15 in A Minor, op 132.”

- Damien Pignolet, Chef/restaurateur