Beethoven 250 – Impressions: Kathryn Selby

Kathryn Selby

Although we can’t throw a birthday bash for Beethoven,  SoundsLikeSydney is going to celebrate the 250th year of his birth with a series of insights from Sydney musicians on hearing and performing his music.

This week, pianist Kathryn Selby, founding artistic director of Selby & Friends gives us her thoughts.

SLS: What was your first experience of Beethoven’s music – did you hear it, play it/ and what was your response to it?

KS: My first experience would have been learning Für Elise and the so-called Lost Penny as a very little girl. When I began to learn and perform the great piano sonatas in earnest, and then performed the Third Piano Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra when I was 16, my deep and abiding love of the master began and it has only grown deeper over the years with greater knowledge and experience with it in its many different forms.

SLS: Have you played his music on an instrument other than your main performing medium – your thoughts on the difference/s?

KS: I have only played Beethoven’s music at the piano. However, his chamber music is quite different from his solo piano music in that it becomes a truly shared medium and there is much from the sonatas and concertos within the later chamber music, to be honest. For me, the sonatas perhaps provide an even more intimate connection with Beethoven.

SLS: What are your insights into the enduring appeal of his music?

KS: For me, his music inspires quite a visceral response on both an emotional and intellectual level and I think therein lies his appeal. He was such an extraordinarily gifted individual, not just with his music but with all aspects of life and the world around him, that it is reflected in his music and our response to it. He was very much a human being on so many levels that he inspires many responses from us and for me, they are always different!

SLS: Your favourite piece by Beethoven that you have never played.

KS: The Emperor Concerto

SLS: When you can give another live performance again, what is the first of his pieces that you will programme?

KS: Well, we are doing live performances still – they are recorded and filmed but they are nonetheless ‘live’ and the next concert I am doing is in fact, all-Beethoven – his Ghost Trio, a rendition of the Allegretto from the great 7th Symphony for piano trio and the amazing Septet in a version for piano trio by Beethoven himself, available to watch on our You Tube channel. It also includes extra material with the artists chatting together about the music we have performed. I cannot wait!!!

Selby&Friends At Home series is available for ticketed audience members to watch free on the Selby & Friends YouTube Channel. These concerts are available to their subscribers and all ticketed patrons. Check the Selby & Friends website for more details.


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