Andrew Fleischman, Beethoven Festival Chair
For Festival updates, please visit our 2021/22 Season page.
The year 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth on December 16, 1770. We are celebrating this milestone with a year-long Beethoven Festival, the centerpiece of which is the Emerson String Quartet’s performance of all sixteen Beethoven String Quartets over six concerts from February 2020 through November 2021. Beyond the quartet cycle, other events will make up our Beethoven celebration—receptions, concerts, read-throughs and talks, including collaborations with other Louisville arts groups. We welcome your participation to make the Beethoven Festival a milestone event to be celebrated and savored throughout the year.
The conception of this festival would not have been possible without fellow board member, former CMSL President and loving friend, Ben Franklin. In order to truly celebrate Beethoven’s chamber music, Ben offered to help sponsor one of the best professional string quartets of all time—the Emerson String Quartet—to come to Louisville to perform all of Beethoven’s sixteen string quartets. Even with the knowledge he may not be here to see it, Ben wanted our music community to experience these beloved works performed by the very best. His passion and support have been our foundation in this presentation.
We sought out the Emerson String Quartet for this project because, not only has the ESQ been one of the world’s premier chamber music ensembles for more than 40 years, it has been a true favorite of Louisville audiences through numerous moving performances here over the decades. Its Deutsche Grammophon recording of the complete Beethoven quartet cycle has earned acclaim for being “technically flawless” and giving the impression of being “forged in white heat.”
In presenting this festival, we remain grateful to the University of Louisville, which has been our long-time partner in presenting world-class chamber music concerts and enriching the artistic life of Louisville through music.
Beethoven Festival Guide Our festival booklet includes addresses by CMSL Board President Cecilia Huerta-Lauf and UofL School of Music Dean Teresa Reed, repertoire lists, festival donors, and more!
Happy Birthday, Beethoven! Our December newsletter celebrates 250 years of Beethoven with listening and reading recommendations from our board members.
Festival Program Notes Music historian and former UofL professor Jean Christensen introduces the Beethoven string quartet cycle with her scholarly insights.
Interview: ESQ Violinist Philip Setzer Discusses the Beethoven String Quartets with CMSL Board President Cecilia Huerta-Lauf
In October 2020, our board president Dr. Cecilia Huerta-Lauf sat down with Philip Setzer, violinist of the Emerson String Quartet, to discuss Beethoven, his late string quartets, and recording with producer Max Wilcox. We’ll have a chance to hear Emerson play the late quartets when our Beethoven Festival resumes in fall 2021, but for now please enjoy the insights and fun stories captured in this interview. Watch it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TDUM5a68ZQ
ESQ Violinist Eugene Drucker Reflects on COVID-19 and Festival Postponement
“We’re frustrated and sad that our Beethoven quartet cycle in Louisville has been interrupted, but we look forward to the continuation of this musical journey with you as soon as possible. These have been extremely difficult times for the United States, where the pandemic has accentuated the inequities of our society. In our microcosm—the world of chamber music—beyond economic hardship and personal tragedies, there is also a great sense of cultural loss: we can no longer come together in a shared space to perform and listen to great music. However, if any music in the Western tradition can offer solace, inspiration, and a measure of hope for the future, it is the entire body of Beethoven quartets, particularly his middle and late works in this genre. We hope that when we all see each other next, science and reason will have pointed the way forward; there will be no better way to salve the wounds of this turbulent period than with the Heiliger Dankgesang from opus 132, the alternately mystical and earthy trajectory of the theme and variations of opus 127, the hushed, stammering intimacy of the Cavatina from opus 130, and the valedictory resignation and serenity of the Lento assai of opus 135, one of the last utterances of this tormented genius.”
— Eugene Drucker, Emerson String Quartet
(Photo credit: Jurgen Frank)
We look forward to welcoming the Emerson String Quartet back to Louisville in fall 2021! Rescheduled concert dates will be announced soon.
Copyright The Chamber Music Society of Louisville