Sister Bay, Wis. (August 16, 2021) – Midsummer’s Music launches its Sultry Summer Concert Series Friday, August 20, with The Beethoven Sphere program featuring Beethoven’s Duet, “With Two Eyeglasses Obligato,” in E-Flat and his Piano Concerto #4 in G Major, Op. 58 (chamber version), along with Ferdinand Ries’ Quartet No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 13. Musicians include David Perry and Eleanor Bartsch, violins, Allyson Fleck, viola, James Waldo, cello, Drew Banzhaf, Bass, and Jeannie Yu, piano.
Beethoven had many, many friends over the course of his life, yet few of those relationships proved to be enduring. One rare, lifelong friendship was with Ferdinand Ries, the son of Franz Anton Ries, an early teacher of Beethoven and a family friend during a difficult period for the young composer. Like Beethoven, Ferdinand studied violin and piano under his father, but he then moved to Vienna in 1801, where Beethoven already enjoyed great support from the nobility, including Prince Karl Alois Lichnowsky and, later, Count Niklaus Zmeskall. Ferdinand made his piano debut as Beethoven’s student in 1804 performing Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto in C Minor. Ries went on to travel widely as a performer with stops in Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Prague, Dresden, Leipzig, Stockholm, London, and Paris. Nevertheless, as a student an assistant to Beethoven, Ries remained in the master’s shadow, which did not do his reputation as a composer much good.
The Duet, “With Two Eyeglasses Obligato,” in E-Flat was written for Count Zmeskall, a cellist, and its title is considered a playful reference to how Beethoven and the count both required spectacles. Ries’ Quartet in F Minor was written during one of his extended visits to Paris to establish himself professionally in the all-important cultural center. Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto is a pivotal work that was first performed publicly in 1808, when his deafness was so advanced that it would be the last time he would appear in public as a pianist. The piece did not follow the norms of 18th century orchestral music and was thus considered strange at the time, and it fell into oblivion until Mendelssohn resurrected it 30 years later. Meanwhile, Beethoven persevered and continued on his own spectacular trajectory.
The Sultry Summer Concert Series and the Beethoven Sphere program opening night is Friday, August 20, at 7:00pm at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Sister Bay. The program also plays Sunday, August 22, at 4:00pm at Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor. On Saturday, August 21, the program may be performed, with the venue to be announced.
Coffee Talks – free, informal presentations on music topics by Midsummer’s Music musicians and friends – resume starting Saturday, August 28, at 10:00am at the Kress Pavilion in Egg Harbor with 2021 Composer Fellow Quinn Mason talking about his Door County Concerto that Midsummer’s Music will premiere on Thursday, August 26, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. On Saturday, September 4, St. Louis 107.3 and SiriusXM’s John Nasukaluk Clare headlines the program. Clare is the first Native American to lead an all-classical radio station and Midsummer’s special guest narrator during the Celebrating Our First 30 Years program in early September.
Reservations for concerts and coffee talks are recommended. Before making plans or purchasing tickets, concertgoers should review Midsummer’s COVID-19 policy at midsummersmusic.com.
Tickets for all concerts are $30 for adults and can be ordered at www.midsummersmusic.com or by phone at 920-854-7088. All programs are subject to change.
Midsummer’s Music was co-founded in 1990 by Jim and Jean Berkenstock, long-time Door County summer residents and principal orchestral players with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. What began as two concerts among friends has become one of the Midwest’s most anticipated chamber music series, bringing thousands of chamber music enthusiasts from around the globe to the magical Door County Peninsula.