Photo by Lisa Marie-Mazzucco

Emanuel Ax Nails Early Work by Beethoven

2020 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven, a composer who casts a long shadow over music—challenging, inspiring, haunting, and setting the bar for generations to come.

Last week the renowned Beethoven virtuoso Emanuel Ax, presented the Piano Concerto No. 2., representing some of the earliest-known music by the composer.

According to guest lecturer, Laura Pritchard, Beethoven had demonic passion for his music and was a shrewd businessman, who suffered fools lightly.

“Not always the most pleasant of men, but clearly brilliant, even at this early stage of his career.” she added.

The San Francisco Symphony program notes observe that his heightened sense of drama, led him to become “a beacon” to Richard Wagner, who then pushed music’s harmonic language into a new realm—one which paved the way for Alban Berg.

Both of these legendary composers comprised the rest of the evening’s concert.

When called out for the predictable encore, Ax played Beethoven’s Für Elise (otherwise known as Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor).

A crowd pleaser by any measure.