ALL EARS ON: Joshua Bell | Vienna 2020. Captital of Music

ALL EARS ON: Joshua Bell | Vienna 2020. Captital of Music


Beethoven was the greatest. I think he was one of the greatest men
that ever walked the earth. Life must have been difficult for him
in many ways, he was losing his hearing which, for a great musician and composer
is the biggest curse you can imagine. Like all curses
you can find a blessing as well. It made him delve into a realm
that he might not have gone, a realm outside of what one can
practice and demonstrate. His late string quartets sound like something that could
have been written in the 20th century. With a great music like
Beethoven it is never just sad. You find multiple emotions,
you feel moved, you feel glad to be alive, you feel like you want to kill yourself. A little bit of all of those things
all at once. But that movement was the
first one that really got me of the Beethoven symphonies. At the moment,
I am the music director of the Academy
of ‘St. Martin in the Fields’ in London. So I have been able to direct
the symphonies of Beethoven. I have directed 1 through 8,
I have not done the 9th symphony yet. which is the most massive and
important in many ways. The Beethoven Concerto is very daunting
and scary for all of us violinists because, like most Beethoven,
you can’t just live in the moment and play a beautiful tune and enjoy it. You have to think of the whole picture,
like a movie director thinks of a film. You don’t just have scenes,
you have to think of this entire story. Which is true of all music,
but with Beethoven, the structure,
it’s like a great building. The architecture is everything
and it will fall apart if you don’t make it
and present it properly. I have played some of the worst concerts
of my life playing the Beethoven Concerto, but also some of the most rewarding
moments of my musical experience were playing the Beethoven. And when you get to the end of the
Beethoven Concerto you feel like you’ve been through
this incredible journey. And the audience feels that
too, or they should. That’s what we aim for. When I was a teenager, I used to watch
the Vienna New Years concert. One memory was the first time seeing
live Carlos Kleiber, the great conductor. I had heard all these
famous Waltzes before, and I always thought it is nice music, Johann Strauss, and suddenly I heard Carlos Kleiber
and the Vienna Philharmonic, and I thought: oh my God,
this is GREAT music. It is not Beethoven, it’s something
very different, but it is great music. Especially when it is done
with such incredible character. I have memories of these
waltzes in my head. Also, my own violin hero
growing up was Fritz Kreisler. And he wrote his own
version, his own waltzes. Actually, he wrote Liebesleid
and Liebesfreud, because you can’t capture
Vienna in just in its joy, you have to have the sorrow as well. That’s probably the first Waltz
I ever played when I was seven years old. I live in NYC,
which is a great city, but I come to Vienna and I see,
even walking down the street every second person
has a violin case or a cello case. Somehow it just feels
like a city of music. Even when there is no music playing,
you feel like you can hear music because there are so many ghosts
of the greats, kind of ringing in the air. I just feel Vienna is the city for music. And, of course, as a musician it
is like heaven to come to the city. I think it is inspiring to be in a place
that just has beauty on every corner. As a musician,
beauty inspires beauty. And that’s what a great piece of
music, like a Beethoven symphony, has. Every note belongs where it belongs for
a reason, it was written with purpose. One memorable year, I had a residency at
the Konzerthaus where I played many times throughout the year, with chamber music,
with my orchestra from London, and recital, and another concerto, and I felt like
it’s starting to become like a home. And, I guess, to be accepted in Vienna
by the musical community is something we all aspire to,
because this is the place.”

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