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Revisiting Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata, Op. 13 GRAVE

It’s nostalgia time for me, reconnecting with the Pathetique that I butchered as a teenager before I landed in the good hands of mentor, Lillian Freundlich. The teacher before, lived about 4 blocks away, but was miles off the mark in her teaching. She had me studying the Chopin Scherzo in Bb minor before I could smoothly play a simple C Major scale in two octaves.

I remember the day I broke down and cried, knowing full well that what I heard internally, was ungraciously undermined when I put my paws on the keys.

Thank God, my audition piece for Lillian, the Pathetique, did not send me pathetically packing. It seems Freundlich had a sixth sense that some innate musicality was lurking in the dark shadows of my misguided performance. (I can’t believe this piece earned me a 90% for my NYC HS of Performing Arts Project) It turned out that “political” connections influenced the jury, since the teacher in question who shoved this piece at me, was a favorite soloist on the East River Concerts conducted by P.A. Chair, Julius Grossman. Better performances than mine would sink ships.

Now it’s decades later, and the Pathetique has undergone a few makeovers. The most recent one, is a work in progress.

Coincidentally, a few of my students are head over heels to play the first movement, so I’ve decided to pick it apart piece by piece in preparation for our collective journey.

In my frenzied desire to have a reunion with a composition I deeply love, I’ve begun with a revisit of the GRAVE, which is an undertaking in itself.