Is Beethoven masculine?

February 25, 2009

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. (L.v.Beethoven)

Beethoven used these words to make a clear statement to the people of his time and to posterity. He considered music as the highest form of expression.
As a composer he was absolutely conscious about the strong influence of his art to other people. Beethoven had particular preference for the instrumental form of the string quartet, he also declared that his way of imagining the sound was always symphonic. Nevertheless he found the perfect expression of all his emotional feelings through the piano sonata form. A similar huge work cannot be found in the whole piano literature like the 32 piano sonatas compendium, which is still a difficult enterprise for a pianist, even today, about 200 years later. Mastering them requires to grow and to mature as a musician for a deeper understanding of Beethoven´s style and sound.

These works belong as well to the concert programs of pianists and complete recordings are normal practice in the classical music market.
This mammoth program contains, anyway, some special touch in its own character.
Those interpreters who are venturing to the “New Testament of piano music” (Quote by H.v.Bülow) are praised and admired for this gigantic artistic undertaking.

This repertoire can be certainly considered as a men-dominated field.
I believe that the complete piano sonatas cycle has been performed by at least ninety percent male pianists. By comparison, female pianists perform this complete work quite rarely. So men are contending the majority.
Are then Beethoven´s sonatas an absolute “big boys-repertoire”? Does his music have such a strong masculine character?

The answer is not in the gender, but in the absolute identification with Beethoven and his music. Through this identification a woman can unleash a new power from these wonderful piano works, and maybe she can even suggest a totally new interpretation of Beethoven´s piano sonatas.