Meeting Betthoven: Moritz Eggert’s “Me With You“

Moritz Eggert has completed a new composition that pays homage to Ludwig van Beethoven in celebration of the upcoming 250th anniversary of the great composer’s birth. Due to be premiered on 27 August 2019 in Kronberg, it’s difficult to image how this project, entitled “Me With You. 10 Fore- and Afterthoughts On Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas, could be any more exceptional. Over the course of these ten preludes, described by the composer as fore- and afterthoughts on Beethoven’s violin sonatas, Eggert seeks to engage with Beethoven “on an equal footing” and set something against Beethoven’s reputation as a major “narrator of freedom”.  The premiere of all ten pieces in this cycle will be performed by a renowned soloist: Antje Weithaas, Nikita Boriso-Glebsky, Suyoen Kim, Mihaela Martin, Alina Pogostkina, Linus Roth, Vadim Gluzman,  Baiba Skride, Hyeyoon Park, and Stella Chen.

Moritz Eggert describes his new work as follows:

“Love demands all, and rightly so, for thus it is for me with you, for you with me.” These are the words of Beethoven in his famous “Letter to my Eternally Beloved”, a document that still puzzles historians to this day. The unusually tender and poetic way Beethoven writes here is unusual because it suggests on a close and long-term intimacy, rather than a fleeting romantic adventure.
For me, Beethoven’s music is close and intimate and if it were a person, you could also say that it would be an “eternally beloved” of mine. Of course, the idea of writing ‘preludes’ for Beethoven’s wonderful violin sonatas filled me with awe because when you marvel at something it also, in a way, makes you a little anxious. We composers are often told by an increasingly narrow-minded music industry that we are only dwarves in comparison to the giants of “classical” music (with a few exceptions, most people believe that that period began and ended in the 19th century which was, interestingly, the century of an aspiring middle class).
Yet of course since time immemorial people have been composing both drab and exciting music. And that was no different in Beethoven’s time. He wasn’t competing against an enormous mountain of music from the past, as during his lifetime performers almost exclusively played new and recently composed music (which, when you think about it, was a much more healthy state of affairs than the 95-99% dominance of old music in our concert programmes today).
Yet I can’t help loving those things that set our musical tradition apart. And Beethoven, of course, is a part of that. But I’d like to engage with Beethoven on an equal footing without looking up at him from below. I can’t create good music when I feel like an insignificant little worm. I would like to avoid, for example, using quotations (that’s why there is no explicit reference to the following or preceding sonatas in my works, except the relationship of key), because I’d have found that tasteless and obsequious. Only the 9th piece joins seamlessly to the Kreutzer Sonata (but it doesn’t have to). The other pieces are complete and stand alone. My pieces can be played before the respective sonata but they also form a coherent cycle for solo violin. Single pieces can also be performed without having to perform the whole cycle.
I deliberately concentrated on what, for me, sets Beethoven apart, namely his recurring definition of a musical logic that (often with a sense of irony) loses its way and frees itself from conventions. For me, Beethoven is the great narrator of freedom. Rather than impressing the audience with superficial, gimmicky New Music methods, my own freedom in these pieces was defined by being able to engage with a predominantly melodic and gestural tonal language that I often miss in today’s music. All the while, Beethoven’s music was as close as “me with him”, and I like picturing him peering over my shoulder while I composed it. The rest is what love demands, and rightly so.”
[Moritz Eggert, 16/7/2019]

The titles of the movements are as follows:

1. Amoroso
2. Feroce
3. Amabile e liberamente
4. Secretly
5. Exuberant
6. Giocoso
7. Timid
8. Forceful
9. Tender
10. Con bravura

World Premiere: Moritz Eggert                                       
“Me With You. 10 Fore- and Afterthoughts On Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas”   
10 soloists: Antja Weithaas (Nr. 1), Nikita Boriso-Glebsky (Nr. 2), Suyoen Kim (Nr. 3), Mihaela Martin (Nr. 4), Alina Pogostkina (Nr. 5), Linus Roth (Nr. 6), Vadim Gluzman, (Nr. 7), Baiba Skride (Nr. 8), Hyeyoon Park, (Nr. 9), Stella Chen (Nr. 10)

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