Beethoven: A Master’s Magnum Opus

2016-2017 Issue 1


How is it that Ludwig van Beethoven has been gone for nearly 200 years yet remains one of the most famous musicians of all time? Leave it to the experts at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival to fill you in. Not only are they an authority on the composer’s music, but they’re sharing their expertise with courses offered in partnership with the McGill University School of Continuing Studies’ PRIZMA program.

The course, Beethoven – Passion Romantique, combines six in-class sessions with six concerts by the Montreal Chamber Music Festival. The courses will feature special guests such as celebrated conductor Raffi Armenian and Festival founder Denis Brott, and the concert series will include VIP-access to an opening reception and a closing reception.

“This is an amazing opportunity to experience Beethoven’s music at greater depth,” says Marisa Gelfusa, PRIZMA’s coordinator. “He lived an extraordinary life, and when you learn the historical context you can actually hear it in the music. These events will not be experienced at arm’s length – our special guests will be bringing along their instrument, participants will be meeting the musicians, and they’ll receive premium tickets to the concerts.”

The event is offered in both English and French and hosted by Richard Turp. Turp serves as the artistic director of the Lachine Music Festival and his enthusiasm for Beethoven is infectious. “There are reasons why he’s been relevant for so long,” says Turp. “Beethoven overcame personal adversity, was the driving force behind the evolution of classical music style, and had an enormous impact on European politics and society during his lifetime. By any measure – musically, historically, philosophically – he is a giant of a man.”

Turp expects the concert series to be even more extraordinary – it will consist of all 16 of Beethoven’s string quartets. Considered to be among the greatest musical compositions of all time, “these works are the Mount Everest of classical chamber music,” says Turp, “and this course is designed to enhance your experience of these works.” They will be performed by the Dover Quartet, one of the most in-demand ensembles in the world.

This event marks the first time McGill has partnered with the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, and Gelfusa is eager to enjoy the results. “One of the pillars of the PRIZMA program is to combine learning with high experiential content. This event is a perfect example; it’s going to be a unique cultural experience.”

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