Beethoven and Buddhism: The Final Piano Sonatas
Stephen Porter, piano
Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109
Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major, Op 110
Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111
Stephen Porter returns to Old First Concerts with a program that interweaves Beethoven’s mystical final piano sonatas with little-known entries from the composer’s diary (the Tagebuch) which show his fascination with Indian religion and philosophy.
Beethoven kept a diary at only one period in his life, from 1812–18, a time of transition when he was leaving behind the heroic works of his middle period and beginning to create the foundations for the world of his late music. This new world would be colored by his almost complete deafness, his personal decision to remain alone and no longer seek a companion, and his expanding interest in transcendental thinking. Several entries from his diary that focus on Indian religion and philosophy give an insight into his personal struggles, and to the utterly unique sound world of the last three sonatas, composed in 1820–22.
Stephen Porter has performed internationally as a soloist at venues that include the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, the Gothenburg Academy of Music and Drama in Sweden, the Sala Villa-Lobos at the University of Rio de Janeiro, Albert Long Hall in Istanbul, LSO St. Luke’s with the Amadeus Orchestra of London, Sarajevo as the featured soloist of the Bosnia International Music Festival, the Malmö Academy of Music in Sweden, and the Rockefeller Foundation at Bellagio, Italy. He is a four-time resident of the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, and is currently Artist-in-Residence at Texas A&M University-Central Texas.
Mr. Porter premieres the work of many contemporary composers, most recently the music of Martin Skafte (Sweden), Toni Lester (USA), Caio Senna (Brazil), Norberto Oldrini (Italy) and Andrew List (USA) in recitals in Norway, Sweden, Italy, France, Brazil and the United States. In 2022 he performs with two Grammy Award winning artists, bass-baritone Dashon Burton and mezzo-soprano Krista River. His primary teachers were Peter Takacs, Jacob Maxin, and Paul Doguereau, a protégé of Ravel.