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THE BEETHOVEN EPISODES: Nine Pieces inspired by Beethoven's 250th Anniversary amid the Covid-19 Pandemic


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Dear community,

I hope you are well.  Since March, I've worked independently on a series of nine orchestral pieces inspired by living and struggling during the Covid-19 Pandemic, and associated each piece with a Beethoven symphony:

  1. Aubade
  2. Fugue: Wear Pearls and Smile
  3. Kommos (Lamentation) / When the World Moved On
  4. Fanfare: Grit
  5. Icarus Also Flew
  6. Immortal Horses
  7. Nocturne: Neowise
  8. Romance
  9. Cocktails for the End of Time

They were written primarily to keep me mentally healthy during a period of personal turmoil.  I'm now actively seeking out performance  opportunities, either physically or digitally.

I kindly invite you to have a look at their website, where you can browse each piece's score, parts, synthesized mock-ups, and even play-along click-track videos to help with the possibility of a remote performance:

https://sites.google.com/view/beethovenepisodes/home

Here's the SoundCloud playlist if you just would like to listen to the mock-ups:

https://soundcloud.com/benjamin-sajo/sets/beethoven-episodes

None of these pieces were commissioned, but their pay-off has been deeply personal and self-affirming.  That being said, I really hope that some of you are able to find the time to have a listen.  If you would be interested in helping me get these performed, I'd love to hear from you.

Kindest regards,

Ben

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Ben - These are really impressive. On top of the original-but-accessible compositional voice, the orchestration is really creative and idiomatic. I think nearly all the composers on this site who write orchestral music (and some who don't) could learn a good deal from these pieces. I'm glad they helped you get through the pandemic--it looks like it was a much more productive time for you than most composers (especially the ones who were used to writing on commission, probably!)

As you probably know, it's difficult to get orchestras interested in new, unperformed pieces even in the best of times--and these aren't the best of times. So I like that you've included click tracks for online performance, and I hope musicians are responding. Are you planning to add more structure to the project (e.g. calls for specific players, deadlines for specific movements) once the Bandlab pages are up?

I wish I could do more to support this project (I shared it on social media, but very little response--I don't know many orchestral musicians.) There are maybe a couple movements I could handle on the trombone, but on the whole I think this music deserves better than I could do with my rusty performance skills. I'm pretty sure there are some good instrumentalists on this site who like to support their fellow composers, so I hope they're reading this.

I wish you the best with this wonderful project. -A fellow not-quite-young Canadian composer.

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On 1/23/2021 at 3:33 PM, NRKulus said:

Hi Ben - These are really impressive. On top of the original-but-accessible compositional voice, the orchestration is really creative and idiomatic. I think nearly all the composers on this site who write orchestral music (and some who don't) could learn a good deal from these pieces. I'm glad they helped you get through the pandemic--it looks like it was a much more productive time for you than most composers (especially the ones who were used to writing on commission, probably!

 

Thank you for your kind words.  I am very sad whenever I hear of artists unable to create for whatever reasoning.  It's not as if immediately when things went south I happily decided to compose.  In fact, the process began in June.  Then, on the bus, I had the theme for Icarus Also Flew, and after a lot of self-doubt and struggles in other areas, things just happened.  The fugue was the hardest, and most frustrating in execution.  I never thought I could hate writing a piece so much, but it happened, and now it's among my favourites.

One bit of theoretical knowledge I'll share: The pieces are the sum of my recent exploration of Transformation Theory, and pan-triadicism.  I highly recommend composers who are looking for recent and exciting theoretical approaches to check out the concept.  One book I'd recommend is Hollywood Harmony by Frank Lehman.

My first BandLab site is up.  It's a start.  I don't know if I should post it here, but if anybody is curious about participating--it's voluntary, at this stage--I'd love to meet them.

 

 

 

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