Beethoven marathon a lifelong obsession for pianist
Toronto-born concert pianist Stewart Goodyear to perform during Luminato
Posted: May 29, 2012 12:42 PM ET
Last Updated: May 29, 2012 5:35 PM ET
Classical pianist Stewart Goodyear is training like an athlete for an unusual marathon he'll attempt next week: performing all 32 of Ludwig van Beethoven's sonatas in the order they were composed in a single day.
Stewart Goodyear: The Beethoven Marathon is planned for June 9 as part of Toronto's Luminato Festival. The plan is to split the recital into three segments, with the first starting at 10 a.m. and the last ending at 11:30 p.m.
Goodyear, a Toronto-born pianist and composer who has loved Beethoven since the age of four, called it a "lifelong dream" to play all of the master's sonatas on a concert stage.
"Classical music was my pulse since a young age," Goodyear told CBC News.
"I always knew I wanted to be a classical musician and Beethoven was the one who compelled me to be a pianist….It's a lifelong obsession and I'm proud of it."
'What goes through my mind is taking the tour, taking that audience onto that evolution of different styles'—Stewart Goodyear, pianist
Most of the people who've bought tickets for his marathon performance have purchased all three portions of the recital — a full 10 hours of music.
"There will be more than 70 per cent of that audience wanting to see everything, hear everything," Goodyear said. "It makes me feel happy because my gut feeling was right, that I'm not alone in wanting to take the whole tour."
Goodyear recalled listening to a 13-album set of Beethoven's sonatas as a child. He went to bed fulfilled because he heard the entire journey the composer travelled with his music, he said, adding that he it's what he hopes the audience will experience as well.
"What goes through my mind is taking the tour, taking that audience onto that evolution of different styles, where Beethoven was headed," he said.
Goodyear, who has performed as a concert pianist with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Toronto Symphony Orchestra, previously recorded two albums of Beethoven sonatas at Koerner Hall. He also has performed the entire series at home and is confident he can pull off the musical feat.
Still, he's undergoing physical training as well to ensure he has the stamina for such a long event: combining lots of exercise and water with a daily cardio workout to keep his body strong.
People think performing the sonata cycle is a stunt – as if music is a sports event, he said, laughing off the criticism.
"I think whenever one is performing Beethoven or Rachmaninoff, there is a sports element," he acknowledged.
"It is your one shot. You're in the ring. You're giving your all to the public and the public is cheering you on. If there is a sports element, that's where it lies."
The Beethoven Marathon goes ahead June 9 at at Koerner Hall in Toronto and is being produced in association with the Royal Conservatory of Music.
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