Beethoven 250

Ludwig van Beethoven is undoubtedly one of the most influential composers in the history of music. In the Lent Term, Dulwich College Music Department celebrated his 250th Anniversary through a specially designed Beethoven 250 festival, in which we focused on learning about his compositions through analysis, learning about his music and performance styles from distinguished musicians and, ultimately, having the courage and privilege to learn all the notes and perform them in public.

We were honoured to welcome Gina McCormack, first violin of the Brodsky Quartet, Patsy Toh, Professor of Piano at the Royal Academy of Music and the Aquinas Trio, one of the leading British chamber groups to give masterclasses to our musicians, who learned invaluable lessons on the art of performance. Music Award Holders attended a performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet Op 132 given by the Brodsky Quartet at Kings Place. After two years of planning, hard work at the piano, and in collaboration with Radley College, St Paul’s Girls’ School and St Helen and St Katharine School, 25 pianists and 4 members of staff headed to the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford on Sunday 8 March to perform all the 32 piano sonatas and 3 early sonatinas continuously in 12 hours. Our musicians played brilliantly at Lunchtime Concerts at Christ’s Chapel and in the Lower Hall and Assemblies in the Great Hall.

The virus lockdown brought our festival (and everything else!) to an unexpected break and our three major concerts (Choral, Chamber Music and Symphonic) were sadly cancelled. However, we are determined to reschedule the Beethoven Study Day later in the year, in which we will study the Pathétique Sonata as well as listening to Professor Nicholas Marston from King’s College, Cambridge, whose knowledge of Beethoven is second to none. This event was designed as the launch of the new SSLP Music Hub, to which more than 80 students from 9 of our partner schools had signed up to attend. Without doubt, our musical journeys will be strengthened by this new initiative that we hope will develop and grow in the years to come.

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