Piano Duets – Music of Beethoven and Schubert – 5 March 2022

In an age when CDs, iPods, Spotify and YouTube were unknown, and live concerts had been the prerogative of the wealthy, transcriptions like the ones in today’s performance reflected what most people in the 19th century knew of this and, indeed, of countless other orchestral masterworks.

Tessa and Ben:

“Working on the 9 Beethoven Symphonies transcribed by Franz Xaver Scharwenka [1850 – 1924] has been a journey of exploration and inspiration. To be able to hear and discover the intricate weaving of all the internal harmonies and melodic lines that one knows are there, but that tend to get submerged in a large orchestral ensemble, has been a revelation.

Please bring this programme to the concert:

PROGRAMME 

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92

  • Poco sostenuto – Vivace
  • Allegretto
  • Presto – Assai meno presto (trio)
  • Allegro con brio

Interval

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

  • Grand Rondo in A major for piano four hands, D. 951

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 21

  • Adagio molto – Allegro con brio
  • Andante cantabile con moto
  • Menuetto: Allegro molto e vivace
  • Adagio – Allegro molto e vivace

Franz Xaver Scharwenka was an inspiring teacher, and a composer of symphonies, piano concerti and an opera, as well as a quantity of instrumental music, including the transcriptions for piano duet for four hands of all the 9 Symphonies by Beethoven.

More about the programme:

Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7 in A major, Op. 92 was written between 1811 and 1812, while the composer was recuperating from ill health at a Bohemian spa town, Teplice. A year later, in 1813, the work was first performed for wounded soldiers from the Battle of Hanau. Beethoven (the conductor at this event) addressed the audience: 

“We are moved by nothing but pure patriotism and the joyful sacrifice of our powers for those who have sacrificed so much for us.” 

The second movement, Allegretto, was so instantly popular that it had to be repeated as an encore. Indeed, that exact same movement was used in the film The King’s Speech (played in the background to the dramatic war-time speech of King George VI, played by Colin Firth). The pathos and heroic qualities of this music thus remain timeless. 

Schubert composed a great amount of piano duet music, and these are some of the most idiomatic creations in this genre. In his last year (1828), he composed two major works for piano four hands: the Allegro in A minor (D. 947 – sometimes called Lebensstürme) and the Rondo in A major (D. 951)

Beethoven did not compose his Symphony no. 1, Op. 21 until he was 29, but the first outlines may be found in his manuscript notes as early as 1794. The work was completed six years later and was dedicated to Baron van Swieten. The first performance was given on 2nd April 1800 at the Hofburg Theatre in Vienna. The work was so popular that publishers had it arranged for quintet – an undertaking against which Beethoven protested energetically but in vain! The Symphony no. 1 has been called “the swan song of the 18th century”; it is certainly an expression of the symphonic form as it was before Beethoven began to adapt it to suit his personality and the new age.

BIOGRAPHIES: TESSA UYS & BEN SCHOEMAN

In 2010, Tessa Uys and Ben Schoeman established a duo partnership after being invited to give a two-piano recital at the Royal Over-Seas League in London. Ever since, they have performed regularly at music societies, festivals and at the BBC. In 2015, they embarked on their journey with the 9 Beethoven Symphonies transcribed for piano four hands by Franz Xaver Scharwenka. They are currently recording the complete Beethoven/Scharwenka Symphonies for SOMM Recordings.

Tessa Uys

Born in Cape Town, Tessa Uys was first taught by her mother, Helga Bassel, herself a noted concert pianist. At sixteen, she won a Royal Schools Associated Board Scholarship and continued her studies at the Royal Academy in London where she studied with Gordon Green.  In her final year she was awarded the MacFarren Medal.  Further studies in London with Maria Curcio, and in Siena with Guido Agosti followed. Shortly after this Tessa Uys won the Royal Over-Seas League Competition and was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.

During the past decades, Tessa Uys has established herself an impressive reputation, both as concert performer, and as a broadcasting artiste, performing at many concert venues throughout the world. She has performed at the Wigmore Hall, Southbank, Barbican and St John’s Smith Square, and has played under such distinguished conductors as Sir Neville Marriner, Walter Susskind, Louis Frémaux and Nicholas Kraemer.

Ben Schoeman

Ben Schoeman was born in South Africa. He studied piano with Joseph Stanford at the University of Pretoria and then received post-graduate tuition from Boris Petrushansky, Louis Lortie, Michel Dalberto, Ronan O’Hora and Eliso Virsaladze in Imola, London and Florence. In 2016, he obtained a doctorate from City, University of London and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He won the first prize in the 11th UNISA International Piano Competition, the gold medal in the Royal Over-Seas League Competition, the contemporary music prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition, and the Huberte Rupert Prize from the South African Academy for Science and Art. He has performed at the Wigmore, Barbican and Queen Elizabeth Halls in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Gulbenkian Auditorium in Lisbon and the Enescu Festival in Bucharest. Ben Schoeman is a Steinway Artist and a senior lecturer in piano and musicology at the University of Pretoria.

Booking

You are advised to reserve places  for this exceptional concert before we are fully booked. The last three concerts were sold out. 

The recommended donation of £35 will cover the concert, drinks and light post-concert snack.

Please note that our supper provision at concerts has changed.  For full details, and for booking instructions – including suggested donations – please have a look at our concerts page.