Through the Digital Door: Works connected to Beethoven (part 2)

This edition of Through the Digital Door is the second in a two-part feature examining some of the works in CMC's collection which are influenced by or are connected to Beethoven. 2020 celebrates the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's death, and this two-part feature reflects on the composer's enduring legacy and influence on composers in the 21st century.

Jane O'Leary: the passing sound of forever... (2015) 11' for string quartet

This work, premiered by ConTempo Quartet, is also the title track of Jane O'Leary's 2017 CD, released by Navona Records.

With its origins in the opening phrase of Beethoven's string quartet Op. 95 (known as 'serioso'), this quartet emerges from the vitality of those few notes. Having heard ConTempo play Beethoven's quartet several times, the resonance never left me as I shaped something new for the same instruments. The motif is explored and dissolves into a more ethereal spaciousness; the contrast between these elements - driving and rhythmic/floating and atmospheric - are central to the work's construction.

Garrett Sholdice: The Secret Cause (2019) for string quartet

This work was commissioned as part of the National String Quartet Foundation's contribution to the marking of Beethoven's 250th birthday. This concert "Beethoven Reflected I", curated by Ergodos, worked the movements of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132 with newly commissioned works by Garrett Sholdice, Amanda Feery, Benedict Schlepper-Connolly and Cora Venus Lunny.

The title is taken from Beethoven's so-called “Heiligenstadt Testament”, a letter written to his brothers in 1802 with instruction that it be read after his death. The text expresses deep despair at his increasing deafness, his increasing isolation. Translated into English, it begins as follows: "O you men who think or say I am hostile, peevish, or misanthropic, how greatly you wrong me, you do not know the secret cause which makes me seem so to you."

Rod (R.A.) Moulds: Égloga: El Sauce que se enamoró de la Caricia del Viento (2002) 10' for chamber orchestra

This work was premiered in 2011 by Mansfield University Orchestra in Philadelphia. The composer writes that:

the instrumentation and many of the music figures used throughout the work are directly modelled on the music of Beethoven.

Anne-Marie O'Farrell: Der Abend (2017) 5' for soprano and orchestra

This work was premiered by Co-Orch, John Doyle and Colette Delahunt in June 2017, alongside a performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 9. Der Abend uses extracts of a poem of the same name by Friedrich Schiller, whose poetry is the basis for the final movement of Beethoven's ninth symphony.

I sought to create a vivid contrast to the volume and force of climactic parts of Beethoven’s work, focusing instead on the quiet transformation of timbres and harmonies. Schiller’s poem depicts the ever-shifting colours and light of sunset, as well as a longing for the view on the opposite side of the globe where sunlight is the dawn. In the poem, this becomes an allegory for the sacred presence of the Divine. During Beethoven’s lifetime nature was used by artists as a powerful symbol of the emotions, and Schiller’s *Der Abend* is typical in this respect, expressing the oneness between the individual and the beauty of the natural world.

Gerald Barry: Canada (2017) 7' for voice and symphony orchestra

Commissioned by the BBC Proms, this work was premiered in August 2017 by tenor Allan Clayton and the CBSO, conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. This work uses the text from the Prisoner's Chorus from Beethoven's Fidelio, in English, French and German. It is one of many of Gerald Barry's works which refers to or is influenced by Beethoven.
This work is published by Schott.

Sinéad Finegan: Toy Scherzo (2017) 4' for orchestra and toy instruments

This work was commissioned by Co-Orch Orchestra in 2017 and premiered by the orchestra with child soloists playing toy instruments, conducted by John Doyle. Toy Scherzo was premiered alongside a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. This work is inspired and influenced by the Scherzo movement from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.

Irene Buckley: Adagio Reflected for string quartet

Adagio Reflected was also commissioned by the National String Quartet Foundation as part of the concert series commemorating the anniversary of Beethoven's birth. This concert focused on Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 131, and featured new works by Linda Buckley, Julia Wolfe and Irene Buckley.

Eric Skytterholm Egan: ...a thing glimpsed (2013) 9' for string quartet

This work is based on the Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart, from Beethoven's String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132.

My piece gradually unravels more complex material (all recomposed from Beethoven’s work), for a recognisable quotation from Op. 132 to emerge towards the end.

Benedict Schlepper-Connolly: Foreign Hand for string quartet

This work also featured as part of the Ergodos-curated NSQF concert in February 2020 "Beethoven Reflected I", commissioned by National String Quartet Foundation with funds from the Arts Council, and premiered by Fidelio Quartet. This work was performed between the third and fourth movements of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132. This work is described in the concert's programme notes:

In Foreign Hand, Benedict Schlepper-Connolly gently sustains the rich sonorities of the third movement – an extended moment of repose before the final tour-de-force of the fourth and fifth movements.