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  • Writer's pictureKate

Beethoven violin sonatas

In less than two weeks I will be traveling to New Zealand to play the complete Beethoven violin sonatas with Justine Cormack. You can follow her account of her experience preparing for the project here, on her blog.

"Holy mackerel," one of my former students said to me when he found out about this project. "That's basically the equivalent of learning ten full-length piano sonatas!" I hadn't thought about it that way, but once he mentioned it, I guess I can see some parallels there.

It is truly an experience working on the violin sonatas - for me, it is a massive amount of repertoire to learn all at once, especially since I wanted to take on this project as a chance to get to know these pieces, and many of them are, therefore, totally new to me. We are presenting them in three programs. It has required strategic planning in the practice room; otherwise it's hard to get to everything often enough.

A project like this underscores the importance of taking care of one's physical body - as Justine and I have been saying to each other, practicing takes a lot of stamina! Yesterday I had a massage, and I have been making sure to drink a lot of water, eat well, and get enough sleep. I am continuing my running and have developed a pre- and post-practice stretching routine.

Every day this week I am practicing one of the programs, on a three-day cycle. This ensures that I work on the pieces I'm least familiar with alongside the ones that are already basically rehearsal-ready.

Separate from the sheer volume of notes to learn, I have been enjoying this "total immersion" Beethoven experience. While I have found a few parallels between certain of these movements and other Beethoven works, I have been amazed at the apparently bottomless well of innovation that he seemed to draw from.

Program 1: Cromwell, Friday Feb 14 (Coronation Hall, Bannockburn)

Sonata no. 1 in D major, op. 12, no. 1

Sonata no. 6 in A major, op. 30, no. 1


Sonata no. 9 in A major, op. 47 (“Kreutzer”)

Program 2: Wanaka, Saturday Feb 15 (Lake Wanaka Centre)

Sonata no. 2 in A major, op. 12, no. 2

Sonata no. 3 in E flat major, op. 12, no. 3


Sonata no. 7 in c minor, op. 30. no. 2

Sonata no. 8 in G major, op. 30, no. 3

Program 3: Queenstown, Sunday Feb 16 (Memorial Hall)

Sonata no. 4 in a minor, op. 23

Sonata no. 5 in F major, op. 24 (“Spring”)


Sonata no. 10 in G major, op. 96

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