ASPECT Foundation for Music and Arts proudly presents another ‘Music in Context’ concert with ‘Tolstoy and Music: Kreutzer Sonata’ on Thursday, February 6 at the 20 Century Theatre on Westbourne Grove, in the heart of Notting Hill.
Featuring the award winning ensemble from the Czech Republic, the Zemlinsky Quartet, the evening delves into Tolstoy’s inspiration for his controversial novel, inspired by the Beethoven’s sonata of the same name. Scottish pianist and former BBC Radio presenter Iain Burnside not only performs the work with the renowned Dmitry Sitkovetsky on violin, but also gives the illustrated talk about the music performed throughout the evening.
Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ for violin and piano, which is dedicated to Rodolphe Kreutzer, a French violinist who never performed it, is the centerpiece of Tolstoy’s novel The Kreutzer Sonata . The novel, in turn, inspired the Czech composer, Leoš Janá?ek, to write his eponymous, intense and feverish first string quartet.
Tolstoy, deeply responsive to music, had a particular passion for folk music; the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s first quartet, based on a folk song from Tolstoy’s childhood, brought tears to his eyes. However, he was highly selective about the works of Western composers. While Tolstoy admired Beethoven and was captivated by his music, he was also of the view that the composer had brought about the decline of musical art.
In The Kreutzer Sonata , Tolstoy expresses his complex and controversial views on marriage and sexuality, focusing on the conflict between the main character, Pozdnyshev, and his unnamed wife, who plays Beethoven’s sonata with a spirited violinist. While she becomes impassioned by the music, Pozdnyshev, believing himself deceived, is overcome by a jealous rage and murders his wife.
The musical narrative of Janá?ek’s String Quartet No. 1 ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ , seems to mirror the unfolding marital tragedy of Tolstoy's novel, while the third movement of the quartet is modelled on the second theme of Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer Sonata.’
Join us as we explore the unique connections between music and literature, and witness music become, in Tolstoy’s words, ‘…a shorthand of feelings.’
Thursday, February 6,
7.30pm (doors open 7pm)
20 Century Theatre, 291 Westbourne Grove, London, W11 2QA
Tickets £25, price includes wine and refreshments