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January 2014
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Enthusiasts Flock to Beethoven Course


Hear The New Releases on Sundays at 10:00 AM

You can join 40,000 Beethoven fans who have signed up for an online class covering the 32 piano sonatas. The course is being offered by the Curtis Institute; your instructor, concert pianist Jonathon Biss.

“Beethoven’s sonatas have been a constant presence in my life for nearly as long as I have been playing the piano. “Presence” is too mild a word, though: “force” comes a bit closer…”

Jonathon Biss can rightly claim to have known Beethoven his entire life: both his parents are violinists, his grandma was a cellist. Biss recently performed two of Beethoven’s sonatas for violin and piano with his mother, Miriam Fried (who chairs the faculty at Ravinia’s Steans Institute), at the 92nd Street Y. Most musicians agree, with Beethoven the relationship deepens as one experiences his music through life’s chapters.

Jonathon Biss can relate to that relationship while still a fairly young guy. Born in 1980, he grew straight into the family business, but wisely (perhaps) did not become a string player. Growing up, his friends used to say he was obsessed with the piano; luckily good teachers weren’t hard to find in his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. At age 17 he left home to study with Leon Fleischer at the Curtis Institute. Now at 34 he is recording all thirty-two Beethoven piano sonatas, a set he intends to complete over ten years. Most recently he’s issued volume 3.

There are a number of sets of Beethoven sonatas available, but this one has something unique: now, through the wonders of technology, anyone can take that epic journey of learning the Beethoven sonatas alongside a major pianist. Offered through the Curtis Institute, Biss gives a 5-week course on the works; the reception has been phenomenal. During its initial offering, over 30,000 people signed up; another 10,000 are waiting for the next round.

On Sunday, Lisa Flynn will feature the latest release in this Beethoven Piano Sonata set, volume 3, on The New Releases.


  • rsberry

    How about replaying the Music of the Baroque’s “Judas Maccabaeus”?