This week, Stefan Duwe, viola player with Acacia Quartet shares his insights into the music of Beethoven. A performer and a teacher, Stefan was born in Oldenburg, Germany. He has worked with many orchestras including the Cologne Chamber Orchestra, Folkwang Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Hungarica, Philharmonie Essen, Düsseldorfer Sinfoniker and Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen.
In Australia, Stefan has worked with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra and recorded the 6th Brandenburg Concerto for ABC Classics.
Stefan is a founding member of Acacia Quartet which has a busy performing and recording schedule. Their album ‘Blue Silence’ was nominated for an APRA-AMCOS Art Music ‘Award for Excellence’. Acacia Quartet has performed at the Sydney Opera House, City Recital Hall Sydney and the Melbourne Recital Hall and has toured extensively in regional NSW and Victoria. The ensemble had its international debut in Vancouver in June 2016. In 2017, Acacia Quartet was invited by the Christine Raphael Foundation to give its European debut, performing in Berlin and recording the string quartets of Günter Raphael. Acacia Quartet has recorded 10 albums.
Acacia Quartet passionately supports Australian composers and is proud to be the Ensemble in Residence at the Orange Regional Conservatorium.”
SLS: What was your first experience of Beethoven’s music – did you hear it, play it/ and what was your response to it?
SD: I grew up in Germany and had a good share of exposure to Beethoven’s music – at home, at school and later studying and performing.
Although I was always drawn to smaller ensembles, the symphonies were my first exposure as a player and I really fell in love with his music when rehearsing and performing his 6th symphony with Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie in Bremen and Paavo Järvi, some time before leaving for Australia in 2001.
SLS: Have you played his music on an instrument other than your main performing medium – your thoughts on the difference/s?
SD: No, only ever played Beethoven on the viola.
SLS: What are your insights into the enduring appeal of his music?
SD: I’m not sure I have any insights into his enduring appeal. Listening to and performing Beethoven, it gets better, both as a listener and as a player, every time.
SLS: Your favourite piece by Beethoven that you have never played.
SD: So far every string quartet of Beethoven with Acacia was my favourite, so still a couple to come…
SLS: When you can give another live performance again, what is the first of his pieces that you will programme?
SD: As soon as performances can start again, Acacia will perform their programmed, but not performed, programs for 2020. That means we’ll be performing Beethoven’s first and last string quartets (Op. 18/1 & Op. 135) with Fanny Mendelssohn’s string quartet and some amazing pieces by Lyle Chan (from his AIDS Memoir Quartet). Hopefully soon!