The story begins in April 1803 when George Bridgetower, a young virtuoso violinist, has just arrived in Vienna and is introduced to Ludwig van Beethoven, the brilliant pianist and composer whom some people are hailing as the city’s next musical genius. When Bridgetower discovers that Beethoven’s background makes him almost as much of an outsider as he is himself, he’s eager to strike up a friendship.
Born in Poland in 1778, George Bridgetower was an African-European musician who lived in England for much of his life. Beethoven wrote his great Violin Sonata Number 9 for Bridgetower, and the two men performed it together at its Viennese premiere in May 1803. Soon afterwards a bitter row broke out between them. Incensed by a casual remark directed at one of his women friends, Beethoven rededicated the piece to a famous Parisian violinist. So what should have been the Bridgetower Sonata became the Kreutzer Sonata. Ironically, Rodolphe Kreutzer never actually performed the work, judging it to be far too difficult. Bridgetower and Beethoven never met again.
“Silence and Joy was due to be staged as a three-act play in the autumn of 2020,” says Blundell. “The first act will now be produced online in October, with the aim of celebrating both the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and also Black History Month. It gives us a glimpse into the creative if short-lived relationship which blossomed between the dazzling violinist and the acclaimed composer — and a taste of the wonderful music which grew out of it.”
The play stars Lloyd Morris as Ludwig van Beethoven, Ben Scheck as George Bridgetower, and Matthew Coulton as Ferdinand Ries (a pupil of Ludwig van Beethoven). It is directed by Kat Medithis, and Music Director/Video Editor is Elliott DeVivo. Featuring violinist Ronald Long Jr and pianist Gavin Roberts.
As the live shows planned for this month are cancelled the first act of this new show will air on YouTube.
Silence and Joy, 8.15pm Friday 30 October 2020. Details and links to the play will be published on the Silence and Joy Facebook page or can be obtained by signing up to the Waldegrave Ensemble mailing list.