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The Beethoven Experience II: Beethoven & Shakespeare, Pt. 2

July 7 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

While our live concert series and symposia at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse are on pause, our exploration of the complete string quartets of Beethoven in celebration of the composer’s 250th birth anniversary will shift to the digital realm, with gripping performances by the Borromeo Quartet, along with newly-produced recordings, discussions, and commentary led by Heifetz Institute Artistic Director Nicholas Kitchen.

Our first program revisits the kickoff of the series, captured in HD audio and video at the ASC’s Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, VA from Feb. 24, 2020, and Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory in Boston, MA on March 8, 2020.

Bor-Romeo, Pt. 2: Beethoven & Shakespeare


String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat major, Op. 127

String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat major, Op. 127

I. Maestoso – Allegro

II. Adagio, ma non troppo e molto cantabile

III. Scherzando vivace – Presto – Tempo I

IV. Finale – Allegro con moto

The Beethoven Experience series on Rubato: The Heifetz Virtual Concert Hall is generously sponsored by Chris & Betsy Little.

From the Program Notes by Benjamin K. Roe

This concert, and indeed this series, will explore the profound legacy and impact of the two artists, and how they resonated in their time, and resonate to this day. Beethoven came of age when Shakespeare was known for the “the eclectic tone, loose construction, and absence of clear moral purpose” in his plays. “His psychological insights were unparalleled, yet his command of theatrical structure was erratic,” prefaces his German translator Johann Schlegel.

In a similar vein, Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat major, Op. 127 left all but his most devoted listeners puzzled: an “incomprehensible, incoherent, vague, over-extended series of fantasias – chaos, from which flashes of genius emerged from time to time like lightning bolts from a black thunder cloud,” sniffed one review. Today, we are apt to recognize Shakespeare’s “loose construction” as a deliberate style entirely of his own making, and after two centuries of listening, the first of Beethoven’s so-called late-period quartets “overflows with lyric, melting sweetness,” leaving us to admire both men, in the words of Beethoven biographer Jan Swafford, for “a joining of tragedy and comedy, the old and the new, strangeness and rightness. The sense of timelessness that comes from an eternal human essence shining through the garb of period and idiom and language itself.”