A playlist for Vienna’s distinguished ladies

THE mug. © Charles Thibo

Do you follow me on Twitter? Then you are certainly aware of one of my most precious possessions – my tea mug. The one with the dots. It’s my official office tea mug, and let me tell you, it brightened up many a grey office day. Just like the classic music that I enjoy while I work at the computer. Yeah, I am a nerd, a computer nerd, a music nerd, a blogging nerd and a piano nerd. And I have the most beautiful tea mug ever. I recently bought a matching tea-pot, and once it’s full of delicious Indian tea, I am ready to confront any conceivable office disaster.

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Injecting fire into Joseph Haydn’s concertos

What a beautiful instrument! © Charles Thibo

There are keyboards and keyboards. Baroque composer would think of the harpsichord and mention in the piece’s name that the piece is meant for violin for instance and basso continuo. The basso part would be played on the harpsichord. Joseph Haydn would write a keyboard concerto and think of still using the harpsichord or the newly invented fortepiano, a harpsichord that can play loud (forte) and soft (piano) sounds. Today one would play it on the modern piano unless… unless Viviane Chassot were around. She is a Swiss musician with a penchant for experiments and she plays Haydn’s keyboard parts on the accordion while the Kammerorchester Basel plays the tutti parts.

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O Brother, were art thou?

Sadness. © Charles Thibo

Writing about Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor – is that a good idea? Probably not. All has been said about the sonata commonly known as the “Pathétique”, one of the most performed works of music history. You most likely know this work, you most certainly like it and you probably have your own ideas about it. What possibly could I tell you that would be of any relevance? Nothing. Unless…

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Two cello sonatas written to please the king

Dealing with kings – a thorny issue. © Charles Thibo

I don’t trust politicians or so-called statesmen. They are – by profession – in the manipulating business. I keep a safe distance from politics and my creative mind does not have to bow to anyone’s wishes, however mighty he might be. Ludwig van Beethoven was less fortunate. At the beginning of his career, he was vying for the favour of King Frederic William II of Prussia. In May and June 1796 he stayed in Berlin and met the cellist Jean-Louis Deport, who had been asked by the king to join the court orchestra. The king himself was an excellent cellist and he asked Beethoven to write a couple of pieces for cello.

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