The sounds of a master

Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra presents the works of Beethoven

By Joe Aiello
Photo: Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will be joined by guest pianist Norman Krieger on Saturday, April 13

Here’s some really new math: 4 concert programs + 3 concert series = X. Solve for X.

It is helpful if you know going in that two concert programs form half of the conclusion of a mini-festival of five Beethoven piano concerti the DPO has presented this season. No?

Okay. Let’s do it the long way.

On Thursday, April 11 and Saturday, April 13 at 8 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center, Music Director Neal Gittleman and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will present Beethoven: Piano Master, the seventh concert in the DPO 2012-2013 Imagine Season’s Miami Valley and Good Samaritan Hospitals Classical Series.

Each concert is actually one of the two previously mentioned concert programs. As far as the mini-festival of five Beethoven piano concerti goes, it’s 60 percent of the way done. The first mini-festival program, Classical Series 1, Enter Beethoven, featured guest pianist Sarah Davis Buechner performing Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 1.” The second program, Classical Series 2, Romantic Titans, featured guest pianist Terrence Wilson performing Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 2.” And the third program, “Symphony Sundaes Series 3 Piano Masterpiece,” featured DPO principal piano Joshua Nemeth performing the Beethoven “Piano Concerto No. 3.”

See the pattern? Good. Pay attention. For it’s gonna get just a bit more complicated.

This concert, Beethoven: Piano Master, is a split-integer – it has two different all-Beethoven programs, one on each evening.

The program on Thursday, April 11 features the DPO performing the heroic Beethoven “Egmont Overture,” DPO Concertmaster Jessica Hung performing the Kreutzer “Violin Sonata” and guest pianist Norman Krieger performing the suggestive and multi-faceted “Piano Concerto No. 4.”

The program for Saturday, April 13 features the DPO performing the seemingly autobiographical Beethoven “Cariolan Overture,” DPO principal second violin Kirstin Greenlaw and principal cello Andra Lunde Padrichelli joining guest pianist Norman Krieger in performing the Ghost Piano Trio (so named for its eerie slow movement) and guest pianist Norman Krieger performing the grand, radiant, noble and towering “Piano Concerto No. 5.”

That’s two concert programs and one concert series. With me so far? Good.

On Friday, April 12 at 8 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Music Director Neal Gittleman and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will present Beethoven’s Piano Legacy, the fourth and final concert in the Demirjian Classical Connection Series.

The concert opens with the “Orfeo ed Euridice Overture” by Christoph Willibald Gluck. In the unique Classical Connections format of first-half description and explanation and second-half performance, Gittleman will analyze each movement and reveal the connection between the Orpheus legend and Beethoven’s vision of his own place in history. Then, Gittleman’s longtime colleague, acclaimed pianist Norman Krieger, joins the DPO to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concertos 4 and 5.

That’s now three concert programs and two concert series. But wait … there’s more!

On Sunday, April 14 at 3 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Music Director Neal Gittleman and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra present the world-famous production “Beethoven Lives Upstairs,” the third and final concert in the 2012-2013 Imagine Season DP&L Foundation Family Series.

“Beethoven Lives Upstairs” is a story told via a lively exchange of letters between young Christoph and his uncle about the “madman” who has moved into the upstairs apartment of Christoph’s home in Vienna, Austria. The correspondence is touching and underscored dramatically with Beethoven’s most beautiful excerpts, Christoph comes to understand the genius of Beethoven, his beautiful music and his tormenting deafness.

Let’s review.

The “Piano Concerto No. 1,” written by a 25-year-old Beethoven, is fashioned in much the same manner as he might have fashioned a sonata. It opens with the orchestra performing contrasting themes. In the second movement, the pianist performs a very melodic theme. The third and final movement is constructed as a rondo, a main theme or refrain that swaps back and forth with another.

Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” opens with a movement constructed like a sonata, followed by a yielding and gentle second movement and capped by a third movement that features a theme borrowed from Viennese legends imitating sounds associated with images of spring.

Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 3” is, at times, both taut and spacious, tense and mysterious, languorous and fiery. And it has an especially gorgeous Largo. Beethoven’s “Concerto No. 4” is one of his most suggestive and multi-faceted creations. And Beethoven’s “Piano Concerto No. 5” is impressive, shining, magnificent and soaring.

And X? What is the X we are trying to solve for, this unknown balancer of the quotation? Simple. It is the joy, delight and satisfaction of having an opportunity to hear some of the world’s most singularly beautiful and powerful piano music and, by so doing, to celebrate the genius, drive and sheer force of will that made this composer, this man called Ludwig von Beethoven, an immortal in the mind of man.

A very good reason to celebrate it by, say, having a mini-festival.

The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra presents Beethoven Weekend April 11-14 at the Schuster Center, 2 W. Second St. On both Classical Series (Tickets $9 – $59) concert evenings at 7 p.m. in the Mead Theatre, DPO Music Director Neal Gittleman will conduct a Take Note pre-concert discussion. Take Note is sponsored by the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Volunteer Association. Connections Series tickets range from $9 to $39, and Family Series Tickets range from $12 to $19. For more information, visit


Reach DCP freelance writer Joe Aiello at

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A member of the Writers Guild of America, native Daytonian Joe Aiello is the author of numerous screenplays, non-fiction books, novels, TV sitcom pilots, news features, magazine articles, and documentaries. He fills his spare time coaching College, A, AA amateur and semi-pro baseball teams; answering trivia quizzes; and denigrating himself attempting to play golf. Reach Joe at

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