Music and Vision homepage

Pianos and Pianists - Consultant Editor Ates Orga

The Promenade Ticket

During the current Prom season we're looking back to
A.H. Sidgwick's memories of Edwardian summer evenings spent at the Queen's Hall, Langham Place

This week: Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto
dedicated to Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia

which Imogen Cooper will be playing on July 23rd

'Friday, 24th August. The real thing at last. As I went into the hall tonight, I felt at once the genuine, unalloyed, echt-promenadisch atmosphere, which is compounded of 60% "Three cheers for Beethoven," 35% "By Jove, this is splendid," and 5% "Aren't we jolly cultivated to be able to enjoy it?" It is [an] invigorating atmosphere... a lively and capable pianist made us happy with the Third Concerto of Beethoven. She was well up to her work, and also young, which is the main thing in this Concerto; no one over forty ought to be allowed to play it. There must be no sophistication, no searching for hidden meanings, no intensity or nuance or Ahnung or whatever the proper word is; the whole thing must go straight ahead and enjoy itself like youth. For every one concerned is happy; Beethoven himself, having just finished the Second Symphony [both works were first performed at the same concert, Vienna April 5th 1803]; the pianist and the audience, very naturally; and happiest of all perhaps is the piano, which has not got to fight for its life as in the Fourth and Fifth Concertos, but can dominate the orchestra with ease, and has only to sparkle and gambol and trill and cut out the clean and supple phrases - all the things that a piano is conspicuously fitted to do. So when my kind friends tell me that the C minor Concerto is imitative and immature, titivated Mozart-and-water, and so forth, I simply say, Go to: it is a friend to mirth and an enemy to all sluggishness and inertia: therefore I will continue to wallow in it.'

- A.H. Sidgwick, The Promenade Ticket: a Lay Record of Concert-going, London 1914

Neither year nor artists are to be found in the Prologue and Diary comprising this slim volume. While circumstantial and calendar evidence would seem to suggest 1906, a passing reference to Strauss's Elektra (entry for September 18th), produced at the Dresden Court Opera, January 25th 1909 questions this. Could the author have wanted simply to contain his impressions and digressions within a (fictitious?) hazily open-ended time-frame? AO

 << Pianos and Pianists homepage