The Beethoven Club has a long history in Memphis. Founded in 1888 by a group of accomplished local pianists, the club’s purpose has always been to promote classical musicians and a love of classical music. For 132 years, this venerable institution has hosted weekly recitals by members and concerts by famous guest performers and continued to enrich the cultural life of our city. Today, the club’s focus is on discovering, promoting and developing local classical musicians, especially gifted young musicians.
The Beethoven Club has a long connection to Elmwood Cemetery. Its founder Martha Trudeau and other original members are buried there. The club has presented several concerts at the Lord’s Chapel there recently. This concert celebrates the 168th anniversary of the founding of Elmwood. The videos were made on the grounds of the cemetery on August 21, 2020.
Bach – Violin Sonata in E Major – Prelude, Loure, Minuet 1, Minuet 2
Composer: J.S. Bach
Player: Priscilla Tsai
Bach composed some of his best music for strings while employed as Kapellmeister at the court of Prince Leopold from 1718 through 1723. Dances were a popular past time in the 18th century. Like other composers, Bach used these dance forms as a basis for his suites. Most dance suites begin with a prelude, which is a free form. Listen for rhythmic and melodic patterns in the prelude.
Loure – Feel 2 groups of 3 per measure. The weight is on the 1st beat. Listen for the lilting dotted rhythm.
Minuet 1 and Minuet 2 – A minuet is like a waltz. Although this dance is in 3, feel the music in 1.
Telemann – Fantasy No. 6 in d minor
Composer: G.P. Telemann
Player: Kelly Herrmann
Telemann is one of the most prolific composers in history and was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the leading German composers of the time. He was compared favorably both to his friend Johann Sebastian Bach, who made Telemann the godfather and namesake of his son Carl Philipp Emanuel, and to George Frideric Handel, whom Telemann also knew personally. The first part of this Fantasia is slow and sweet. You will hear an A and B section, each repeated with the repeat played differently using ornaments like trills. Composers during this period gave performers a lot of freedom to interpret what they believed would be appropriate.
The next section is lively, Allegro in Italian, with themes and sequences you will hear several times.
The final section is animated, Spiritoso. The form is a Rondeau. In a rondeau you will hear the beginning return many times after sections of new melody, e.g. ABACADA.
Bach – Cello Suite No. 1 (arr. for violin) prelude, allemande, courante
Composer: J.S. Bach
Player: Daniel Gilbert
This is probably one of the most famous Bach Preludes. You’ve heard this work in TV commercials and weddings, just to name a few. This suite was originally written for cello but works beautifully for violin and other instruments. Listen for the architecture. It begins quietly with chord tones played one at a time, an arpeggio, with a repeated lower note. Listen for the rising and falling of the scales and how the performer adds expression by getting louder as scales go up and softer coming down. The climax of the prelude is at the very end.
The Allemande is a German dance with 2 beats per measure with the 1st beat being the strongest with a slight emphasis on the second beat.
The Courante is a dance with 3 beats per measure. Listen for two voices. You will hear a conversation in this dance.
Milhaud – Duo for Two Violins, Op. 258
Composer: Darius Milhaud
Instrument: 2 Violins
Player: Priscilla Tsai, Daniel Gilbert
Composed in 1945, this piece was dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin and Roman Totenberg. The Romance is the second movement. Romance is a fitting title for this movement because the music is intimate, with the violins always in balance. It is slow and uses the violins with mutes.