Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

Continuing my weekly feature: This, of course, would be my favorite Mandela story.  It's the tale of a well-known Welsh pianist who moved to South Africa and refused to play for apartheid audiences. Then he let his rehearsal space be used as a secret meeting place for Mandela and his colleagues.  To drown out their discussions he would incessantly practice one of Beethoven's greatest pieces, his Piano Concerto No. 4 and would be hailed as a hero to the cause.  “Happily the music was very loud, and if there were any bugs, all the security police would hear would be Beethoven and not us planning resistance to apartheid.  Beethoven would have been happy.”  Cool photo of Rubens--with George Bernard Shaw.

Also note: After the change in power in South Africa, the country did not yet have a new national anthem--so at the 1992 Olympics the music played for its winning athletes was, aptly, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."  My new film and book on Beethoven's 9th.

Now here's a terrific rendition of the 4th, with Helene Grimaud.

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