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This podcast presents the fourth and final segment of our four-part series ‘Beethoven Variations: A Poet’s Journey through the Music and Life of Beethoven’ with renowned British poet Ruth Padel and eminent pianist Karl Lutchmayer. This series has been put together by Prateeti Punja Ballal.
In Part IV of the series, Ruth and Karl take us through Beethoven’s last years. His last great love affair, when he was forty-one, was a prelude to five years of barrenness, misery and writer’s block − and then to some of the most poignant, profound and redemptive music ever written.
In this four-part series, Ruth Padel takes us on an intimate journey through Beethoven’s life and music, illustrated by her poetry from her recent book. Professor of Poetry at King’s College London, she has written many collections of poetry, and books of non-fiction and fiction. Her earlier book Darwin: A Life in Poems, released on Darwin’s centenary, captured her great great grandfather memorably.
Concert pianist and lecturer, Karl Lutchmayer held an academic lectureship at the Trinity College of Music in London, now Trinity Laban, for fifteen years. He has played at all the major London concert halls and across the world, and his London lecture-recital series, Conversational Concerts, garnered critical and public acclaim. Karl performs Beethoven’s music for us and gives us his insights into its composition and context.
This concluding episode of the series was followed by a post-performance discussion with Ruth Padel and Karl Lutchmayer which can be viewed here.
Ruth is an award-winning British poet with close links to Greece, science, classical music and wildlife conservation, especially in India. She has published eleven poetry collections shortlisted for all major UK prizes, a novel featuring wildlife conservation, and eight books of non-fiction: on wild tiger conservation, shortlisted for the Kiriwama Prize; studies of mind and madness in Greek tragedy, and the influence of Greek myth on rock music; and books on reading poetry drawn from her four-year newspaper column, The Sunday Poem. She is Professor of Poetry at King’s College London, was Chair of Judges for the 2016 T. S. Eliot Prize, Judge for the 2016 International Man Booker Prize, and is Fellow of both the Zoological Society of London and Royal Society of Literature. She is a frequent speaker at the Jaipur Literature Festival, and her poems have appeared in, among others, The New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, Harvard Review, Indian Quarterly, The White Review, Times Literary Supplement, London Review of Books, Poetry Review, and The Guardian. Awards include First Prize in the National Poetry Competition, a British Council Darwin Now Award, and a Cholmondley Prize. Her latest book is Beethoven Variations. Darwin: A Life in Poems released a decade ago on Darwin’s centenary captured her great great grandfather memorably.
Karl Lutchmayer is equally renowned as a concert pianist and a lecturer. A Steinway Artist, Karl performs across the globe, has worked with conductors including Lorin Maazel and Sir Andrew Davis, and has played at all the major London concert halls. He has broadcast on BBC Television and Radio, All India Radio and Classic FM, and is a regular chamber performer. A passionate advocate of contemporary music, Karl has also given over 90 world premieres and had many works written especially for him.
Karl’s London lecture-recital series, Conversational Concerts, has garnered critical and public acclaim, and following his landmark recitals celebrating the Liszt and Alkan Bicentenaries, he received invitations from four continents to give lecture-recitals. Karl also held an academic lectureship at Trinity Laban (formerly Trinity College of Music) for 15 years, and is a regular guest lecturer at conservatoires around the world, including the Juilliard and Manhattan Schools in New York.
An OCI of Goan parents, in recent years Karl has focussed much of his time and attention on nurturing the burgeoning Western classical music scene in India, his family home. While helping young musicians and music teachers to fulfil their potential, he has also been involved in audience creation projects in many of the major cities. It was for this work that he was awarded the Bharat Gaurav (Pride of India) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.
Karl studied at the Junior Department of Trinity College of Music, then at the Royal College of Music and undertook further studies with Lev Naumov at the Moscow Conservatoire. His research interests include the music of Liszt, Alkan, Busoni and Enescu; The Creative Transcription Network; reception theory; and the history of piano recital programming.
For the last two years, Karl has been undertaking research at New College, Oxford, but he usually resides in London, where he is sometimes spotted in his alternative incarnation as keyboard, percussion and theremin player in the prog rock band The Connoisseur.
David Waterman was born into a musical family in Leeds. He studied Philosophy for six years at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he went on to do a PhD and tutored final-year Philosophy undergraduates. At the same time, he continued playing the cello, studied privately with Martin Lovett, William Pleeth and Jane Cowan, and finally opted for a musical career. He is a founder-member of the Endellion String Quartet, and since 1979, has performed with them all over the world, broadcast countless times on BBC Radio and TV, and recorded for EMI, Virgin Classics, ASV and Pearl. He has played chamber music with many internationally renowned musicians, and taught both cello and chamber music at the Yehudi Menuhin School, the Royal Northern College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music, the Guildhall, the Menuhin Academy at Gstaad, and IMS among many others.
British soprano Nina Kanter is a faculty member at KM Music Conservatory in Chennai, where she is a lecturer in western classical voice, music history and musicianship. Nina is the founder of vocal ensemble Vox Madras, and India’s first Art Song Festival, which launched in 2020.
Winner of second prize in the 2018 North International Music Competition, Nina is a Britten-Pears Young Artist, an Opera Prelude Artist and was an ENOA Artist at Teatr Wielki, Polish National Opera.
Opera highlights include Norma in Bellini’s Norma for RAM Vocal Faculty Opera Scenes; Santuzza in Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana for Hampstead Garden Opera (nominee: Best Opera Production, Off West End Theatre Awards) and for London’s Italian Cultural Institute, and Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin for Cambridge University. In recital, highlights include performances of Slavic song at the Aldeburgh Festival and Schubert lieder with pianist James Cheung for the Oxford Lieder Festival.
Nina received her MA from the Royal Academy of Music in 2018, where she was awarded Distinction and the Grabowsky Connell Prize. During her studies Nina was a Josephine Baker Trust Artist and a prizewinner in the Joan Chissell Schumann Lieder Prize. She has trained with the English National Opera, with the Lyric Opera Studio Weimar and with the Glyndebourne Opera Academy. Previously Nina read Music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where she was awarded first class honours and the Sir Rudolph Peters’ Prize for Music.
The Endellion String Quartet
The Endellion String Quartet has been together for forty years and is known as one of the finest quartets in the world. It was founded in January 1979 and three of the original players continue to be members, violinist Andrew Watkinson, violist Garfield Jackson and cellist David Waterman. Violinist Ralph de Souza joined them thirty-two years ago in 1986. Everywhere, the Endellion String Quartet ‘captivates concertgoers with a remarkable rapport, playing to each other with a sense almost of discovery, communicating to the audience on a level of unusual intimacy’ (The Guardian). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2000) states that ‘The Endellion is arguably the finest quartet in Britain, playing with poise, true intonation, excellent balance and a beautiful tone.’
In Britain, the Endellion String Quartet has appeared at nearly all of the major series and festivals, and has broadcast many times on BBC radio and television. Its presence in London has been marked for many years by an annual series at Wigmore Hall and also by appearances at the Queen Elizabeth Hall where the quartet members were Artistic Directors of several ‘Quartet Plus’ series. The Endellion have enjoyed their prestigious Residency at Cambridge University which began in 1991, have given a regular Spring series at The Venue in Leeds, and recently began a new series at Balliol College, Oxford.
The Endellion’s recording of the complete Beethoven quartets and viola quintets (supported by The Stradivari Trust) was released by Warner Classics in their 30th year. The set includes rarely heard works, movements, studies, and fragments for quartet and quintet, as well as Beethoven’s complete early version of Op.18 No.1 and his remarkable quartet arrangement of his Piano Sonata Op.14 No.1. The excerpt in this programme is from the third movement of Beethoven’s late quartet Op.131 which is available for viewing here.