Reports on the Newly Established New York Chapter of the American Beethoven Society

Article excerpt

The Chapter's Founding

Susan Kagan

A MUCH HOPED-FOR PLAN TO ORGANIZE A BRANCH OF THE AMERICAN BEETHOVEN Society on the East Coast materialized in September 1995 with the establishment of a New York chapter at Hunter College of the City University of New York. The purpose of such a branch is twofold: to provide support for the activities of the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies in San José, and to enable Beethoven lovers in the New York area to participate and enjoy events similar to those offered at the Center to San Francisco Bay area residents: concerts, lectures, symposia, and the like.

The project received enthusiastic support from the Hunter College administration and from the Music Department of Hunter, which houses the chapter. Hunter College is an ideal location, situated mid-town at 69th Street and Park Avenue, convenient to subway and bus lines and close to Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other cultural institutions. A bustling urban campus with some 19,000 students, it boasts several excellent performance facilities, including two newly-renovated theater/concert halls: The Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse (with some 650 seats) and the Ida K. Lang Recital Hall (with about 150 seats). For many music lovers in New York, the revival of musical activity at Hunter College brings back wonderful memories of the glorious decades - the '40s, '50s, and '60s - when the annual series of concerts at Hunter featured the most illustrious artists of the time.

Our first step was the formation of an Executive Board that would represent all areas of Beethoven interest: scholars, musicians, and Beethoven lovers. The response from prospective Board members was overwhelmingly positive, and within a short time we gathered a distinguished group to serve on our Executive Board. Its members are Robert Becker, Martin Bernstein, Susan Braddock, James FuId, Richard Goode, L. Michael Griffel (Vice-President), Douglas Johnson, Susan Kagan (President), Richard Kramer, Jacob Lateiner, Henry Neiger, Marge Scheuer, Karl Ulrich Schnabel, Seymour Solomon, George B. Stauffer (Hunter College Music Department Chair), and J. Rigbie Turner. Several members of the Executive Board of the New York Chapter are already affiliated with the ABS as members of the Advisory Board.

Our next step was an invitational mailing to prospective members in which, in addition to a subscription to The Beethoven Journal, we offered two events for our inaugural season. On November 21, in the Lang Recital Hall, Joseph Lateiner presented a lecture/recital titled "Youth and Maturity: Beethoven's First and Last Fortepiano Sonatas." This program was free to our members and to the public, and was followed by a reception. Our second event is scheduled for March 19, 1996 in the Kaye Playhouse, and will feature the eminent Czech violinist Josef Suk in partnership with pianist Susan Kagan in an evening of Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano.

Although our initial mailing list of several hundred names constitutes only a small part of the concert audience in the New York area, we had an immediate and very positive response. At this moment (early December) more than 80 members have joined our Chapter. Such enthusiasm is not surprising; Beethoven is a composer for all seasons, universal in appeal, and a man whose music consistently provides emotional and intellectual satisfaction for listeners.

In sum, we are off to a great start, and are looking forward to a long and fruitful affiliation with the national American Beethoven Society housed at San José.

Susan Kagan teaches music history at Hunter College and has recently recorded three Mozart concertos with the Suk Chamber Orchestra. She is an expert on Beethoven's most important patron, the Archduke Rudolph.

The Lateiner Lecture-Recital

Thomas Wendel

IT WAS ENTIRELY FITTING THAT JACOB LATEINER PARTICIPATED IN THE FORMAL OPENING OF the first branch of the American Beethoven Society. …