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Musings from the Maestro

Pianist Peter Serkin joins ASO for Valentine’s Day concert

“My angel, my all, my very self…No one else can ever possess my heart — never — never — Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves… love me — today — yesterday — what tearful longings for you — you — you — my life — my all — farewell… Oh continue to love me — never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.

ever thine

ever mine L.

ever ours”

So writes Beethoven in his famous letter to his “Immortal Beloved,” whose identity remains a mystery though her miraculous significance to Beethoven is clear — she was the first and only woman ever to wholly accept and love him unconditionally.

The 1994 Hollywood movie, “Immortal Beloved,” while taking factual liberties, compellingly dramatizes the search for her identity. It also contains a powerful soundtrack of Beethoven’s music, featuring the “Eroica” Symphony. The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra unleashes Beethoven's stormy passions, in an explosive performance of this masterpiece, as our Hollywood Season continues with “Immortal Beloved—Secret Lovers” on Feb. 15.

This Valentine’s Day concert also explores the great secret love of composer Johannes Brahms. His relationship to his secret love, the pianist/composer Clara Schumann, began in his early 20s, when he met the Schumanns, who played a vital role in launching his career. Shortly thereafter, Clara’s husband Robert, suffering from mental illness, threw himself into the Rhine. He was rescued, but spent the remaining years of his life in an asylum. During this difficult time, Brahms proved a devoted, invaluable companion; he and Clara formed an extremely close friendship that lasted until her death in 1896, one year before Brahms’ death. The extent of their relationship remains uncertain, as they destroyed a large amount of correspondence. What is clear is that they cared for each other deeply. Regarding the slow movement of the Piano Concerto No. 1, which will be performed on our Valentine’s Day concert, Brahms wrote: “I am painting a lovely portrait of you.” In another letter he wrote, “I love you better than myself or than anyone or anything in the world.”

Pianist Peter Serkin invokes Brahms’ muse with his deep sense of poetry and lyricism as he performs this concerto, alternating between music of unabashed emotion and moments of exquisite tenderness. Hailed by New York Magazine as “one of the supreme musicians of our time,” Serkin is one of the most thoughtful and individualistic musicians appearing before the public today. Together, Peter Serkin and the ASO present an unforgettable Valentine’s Day concert—a romantic evening of passion and desire paying tribute to Beethoven and Brahms and the muses that inspired them.

Looking forward to seeing you on Feb. 15.