WFIT Features


By 1811, Beethoven's hearing had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer play with an ensemble.

He was an angry man, and who can blame him?

Even though he knew he would never perform his Piano Concerto No. 5, he wrote it as if for himself, channelling his rage into a withering piano part in this, his final piece in that form.

Igor Stravinsky
Erich Auerbach / Getty Images

This week's featured work, Petrouchka, is Igor Stravinsky's ballet score for a fantastic and tragic tale of three puppets brought to life by a charlatan puppeteer on Shrove Tuesday, the pre-lenten day of festivities also known as Mardi Gras.

And our series of the Beethoven Piano Concerti continues  with Number Four, once again featuring Vladimir Ashkenazy conducting from the keyboard.

This week we arrive at the mid-point in our series of the five Beethoven piano concerti. With his dramatic third concerto, Beethoven gives us some of the first inklings of where he was about to take orchestral music: a place from which it would never return to the high Classical style  that had come before.

We'll look at some 20th- and 21st-century American music this week. Can it tell us where music is headed in our century? No, you need a crystal ball for that.

Similarly, at the cusp of the 19th century, no one could have predicted where music was going. But something was about to happen, and Beethoven's second piano concerto was a harbinger of what was to come.

Musical evolution then and now: we know what happened then, maybe we'll catch some hints at what's about to happen now.

Beethoven arrived in Vienna determined to take the big city by storm, and with his first piano concerto, he was well on his way. By the time of his fifth concerto, his world was falling apart . Listen to the process as we begin a five-week series of the piano concerti this week with Vladimir Ashkenazy as both soloist and conductor with the Cleveland Orchestra.