The Russian pianist and pedagogue Boris Berman dedicates a masterclass to Beethoven's Eroica Variations and their famous theme.
Boris Berman is known in more than fifty countries as one of the best piano teachers of our time. Before appearing with the Major orchestras, he was a student of Lev Oborin, an eminent professor at the Moscow Conservatory who trained many high-classed pianists such as Vladimir Ashkenazy. Then, Berman made himself known as a soloist and recitalist travelling the Soviet Union and working with renowned contemporary composers. He gave the first Russian performances of Schönberg's, Stockhausen's, Berio's or Ligeti's works. Since 1979, he has lived in the United States where he has taught at Brandeis, Boston or Indiana University, but also at the Yale School of Music where he is currently posted.
Indeed, Berman is more than qualified to hold that masterclass dedicated to a famous work, Beethoven's Eroica Variations. This cycle of 15 variations and a fugue is gone back to 1802, when the 32 years old composer is fighting against his increasing deafness. It is during these difficult times that he managed to exorcise his doubts and fears by composing his Variations and Fugue for Piano in E Major, Op. 35. The dancing theme we find is this work, which already existed in his ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, is once again present the next year in the final theme of his third symphony called “Eroica”. The Variations are commonly known as new Eroica Variations. Also, given the blackness in which Beethoven was leaving during this period, it is surprising to see how this work is full of rare humour and joy.
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