Beethoven and Biscuits – CD launch
In 2008, I was commissioned by the Two Moors Festival to write ten-minute narratives for each of Beethoven’s nine symphonies for performance at the organisation’s main two-week event in October of that year.
Needless to say, I was particularly excited about being involved in such an interesting project but I did approach it with a certain level of apprehension, having a somewhat limited knowledge of classical music – in spite of the fact that my mother plays and teaches the piano and used to be an opera singer, while both my sisters are classically-trained musicians.
I began the process by reading countless factual books about the composer, as well as John Suchet’s Last Master series, a fictionalised account of Beethoven’s life which proved invaluable for gaining insights into his personality and psyche. Following this, I played each symphony very loudly while writing the individual pieces, bringing in historical context and using extracts from the many letters that Beethoven had written throughout his career.
The concerts themselves were played in their piano duet form, with musicians such as Alison Farr, Robin Davis, Ingrid Surgenor, Piers Lane, Helen Davies and Harvey Davies, the lutoslawski Duo, Alissa Firsova, Wu Qian, Nicola Eimer, Christoph Berner, Ashley Wass, Leon McCawley, Anna Tilbrook, Richard Morrison, Cordelia Williams and Tom Poster. Prior to each performance, my scripts were read aloud, narrated by Petroc Trelawny, Ian Price, Linda Hayden, Des Belam, Richard and Annette van Oppen and Tom Poster.
It proved to be such a success that, not only was it nominated for a Royal Philharmonic Society award, it was decided that a CD should be made of the third symphony, the Eroica – the launch of which was earlier this year in North Devon. Ian Price read the narrative, with mother and son team Helen and Harvey Davies taking on the piano part. It was a great evening, with wine and good food in abundance – and I even signed my first autograph. Fame and fortune awaits!