Master class

Emanuel Ax teaches Beethoven: Piano Sonatas and Variations

Treasures of the Masterclass Media Foundation

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Emanuel Ax — Teacher, pianist

Samson Tsoy — Pianist (student)

Nicolas van Poucke — Pianist (student)

Claire Huangci — Pianist (student)

Program notes

Seven-time Grammy Award-winning Emanuel Ax explores the diversity of young Beethoven's compositions.

Born in Galicia, annexed by the Soviet Union after World War II, Emanuel Ax continued his studies at the famous Juilliard School in New York after his family departure to the United States. He came into the limelight in 1974, at the age of 25, winning the inaugural Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition. He repeated the feat five years later by winning the coveted Avery Fisher Prize. Thus, it provided him career opportunities with New York, Boston, Philadelphia or Cleveland orchestras, and he found himself rewarded by numerous Grammies for his recordings.

In this masterclass, he and his students cover a programme dedicated to Beethoven. The Piano Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 2, dedicated to Haydn, thrilled critics and public by its freshness and modernity, but then was judged a bit immature by its dedicatee. At that time Beethoven was only in his twenties. The Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28, called Pastoral and composed in 1801, shows a greater serenity. Discredit at that time, the genre of variation offers the composer a greater flexibility to develop his musical ideas. Beethoven composed around twenty sets of Variations, of which only four are listed, the most famous being The Diabelli Variations. In this masterclass, it is the brilliant 32 Variations in C Minor that are performed.

The Masterclass Media Foundation Archives offers to students and music lovers around the world filmed masterclasses, given by the best talents, on the greatest works of the classical repertoire. Their primary purpose is to provide a valuable educational resource in order to perpetuate passion and knowledge from one generation to another.

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