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Great Composer-Pianists: Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and Brahms

4-Session Evening Series

Wednesday, May 11 to June 1, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0229
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Join popular speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin as she guides a unique look at the monumental keyboard talents of four great composer-pianists and how their performing virtuosity influenced the piano works we enjoy today.

With a legacy of printed compositions but no recordings, how can we get closer to the white-hot moments of creation and performance when these artists poured out their genius for fortunate and astonished listeners? How did the composers’ musical imaginations and their signature performance styles influence the development of how pianos would be constructed and sound? And did their contemporary audiences even comprehend what they were hearing?

Franklin offers fascinating exploration into the creative minds—and hands—of a quartet of piano pioneers celebrated for their prowess as composers and performers. She concludes each lecture with a live performance of a work by the spotlighted composer.

British-born Franklin has been a featured speaker for organizations including the Library of Congress and NPR, exploring intersections among classical and jazz music, film scores, and the fine arts.

Please Note: Individual sessions are available for individual purchase.

May 11  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart’s playing was regarded as simply wondrous. Franklin examines his beginnings as a harpsichord player and how he subsequently pivoted directly to the recently developed pianofortes, creating new concerto styles that both dazzled and confused his audiences.

May 18  Ludwig van Beethoven

Mozart may have enchanted his listeners, but Beethoven overwhelmed and frequently disturbed them. While constantly harassing piano makers for stronger instruments and dealing with encroaching deafness, Beethoven created entirely new piano techniques almost by accident as he fought to express his titanic ideas on the instrument.

May 25  Fryderyk Chopin

Because of both his fragile health and the exquisite patina of his style, our understanding of Chopin’s playing is sometimes clouded by romantic myth. While he only enjoyed performing for private audiences, many reports show him to have been a mesmerizing player with a piano technique and harmony so revolutionary that it left his brilliant friend Franz Liszt scrambling to keep up.

June 1  Johannes Brahms

Brahms trained intensely as a pianist and all his compositions for the instrument demand a prodigious and highly controlled technique. He was also a renowned pedagogue, and he and his muse Clara Schumann taught many students whose playing was subsequently captured by early recording, providing a tantalizing glimpse into the performing styles of the 19th century.

4 sessions

Patron Information

  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from CustomerService@SmithsonianAssociates.org.
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of each session. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of each session, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.