Roll Over Beethoven – Hearbase

Roll Over Beethoven

Canterbury Festival

Canterbury Festival is going ahead with live performances next month and we are sponsoring a series of concerts by pianist Joanna MacGregor.

Over three days she will play all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in the order in which they were written.

Joanna, who is head of piano at the Royal Academy of Music, is one of the world’s most innovative musicians. She has performed in more than 80 countries with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors.

“I’m playing all his piano sonatas because 2020 is the Beethoven anniversary year,” she said.

Beethoven had tinnitus

Many people are aware that Beethoven lost his hearing. He suffered from tinnitus from the age of 26 and by the time he was 44 he was almost totally deaf, though this did not stop him from composing some of his greatest works.

As Kent’s largest independent hearing company, we know how devastating hearing loss can be. As his hearing got worse Beethoven complained he could not hear the high notes in orchestras and could hardly hear people who spoke softly.

Protecting the hearing of students is something which Joanna said is taken very seriously.

Good hearing is key for musicians

“Good hearing is key for musicians,” she said. “Nowadays young musicians are taught the importance of decibels and of looking after their hearing. Trying to preserve it for as long as possible is so important, especially for orchestral players.

“Violinists often damage the hearing in their left ear as that is the one nearer to the instrument. Music colleges are doing lots of work now on warning students of the dangers and the need to protect hearing.”

Listening to all the piano sonatas performed in the order they were written will be a great way to hear how Beethoven’s music evolved, said Joanna.

An immersive experience


“It’ll be a totally immersive experience which is not normally done live like this over three days,” she added. “But a festival is ideal for this type of performance.

“It is fascinating to see how Beethoven’s work becomes more and more ground-breaking as we move through the series of sonatas.

“He just did not stop experimenting and listening to all 32 sonatas is like watching a great creative mind at work and evolving.”

It will also reveal how Beethoven’s music changed as his hearing declined. He used fewer high frequency notes and made greater use of the lower register which he could still hear.

Joanna will play all 32 piano sonatas over several concerts between October 23-25, at the Shirley Hall, King’s School, Canterbury.

Tickets are on sale now and may be booked here