Beethoven’s two premiere performances of the “Archduke” Trio marked his last appearances as a pianist. Sad written accounts tell of how terribly Beethoven’s piano skills were compromised by his deafness. He pounded on the keys much too hard in some passages, and in softer passages was unintelligible. One notable composer, Louis Spohr, wrote, “I was deeply saddened at so hard a fate. If it is a great misfortune for anyone to be deaf, how shall a musician endure it without giving way to despair? Beethoven’s continual melancholy was no longer a riddle to me.” Beethoven gave two performances of the Archduke Trio as pianist then never again performed in public. But the music was praised for its grandeur, nobility, and “genial vitality.” Beethoven’s “Archduke” Piano Trio is today’s Midday Masterpiece at 2:00 pm.
November 16, 2022