TORONTO - Classical pianist Stewart Goodyear is gearing up to make history by teaming musical skill and physical endurance in a 10-hour performance of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas.
To perform the 103 individual movements in one day has been a dream since he was a young child, Goodyear said in an interview after a rehearsal for reporters at Toronto's Koerner Hall, where the marathon will take place.
"Beethoven was my first love and Beethoven was a composer who compelled me to be a pianist. I think I heard Beethoven almost since I was born and his music has been with me since."
Goodyear is performing his "Beethoven Marathon" in Toronto on June 9 as part of Luminato, a multidisciplinary festival of arts and creativity that runs June 8 to 17.
The sonatas of Beethoven, said to be a pinnacle of the solo piano repertoire, lend themselves to the one-day extravaganza, which will take place in three concerts.
"I just don't see other composers in a one-day event like this composer," explained Goodyear. "Like I wouldn't do a complete one-day set of Mozart sonatas. I adore Mozart and I adore his sonatas, but somehow with Beethoven, they feel like they're a song cycle in which every song paints a different picture of humanity and that's what I intend to show June 9th."
The musician performed movements from three of the sonatas in Koerner Hall which is attached to the Royal Conservatory of Music, a stone's throw from where he grew up in the Annex area of Toronto.
"I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to present this lifelong dream of presenting this marathon in the way that I saw it when I was around three years old and presenting it in my hometown of Toronto," the pianist said.
Goodyear's father died a month before he was born, but he left behind a wide range of music that captured his precocious young son's interest.
"I grew up surrounded by music. I came from a very eclectic musical background," said Goodyear, who is also a composer. "My father had LPs ranging from Cat Stevens to Led Zeppelin to the Rolling Stones to the Beatles and I was listening to those LPs as well as two boxes of records. One box were the complete Tchaikovsky symphonies and the other box was Beethoven.
"And somehow after listening to those two boxes of records that's when I decided, around I think age three or four, that's when I decided I wanted to be a classical musician.
"There was no other reason why I wanted to be so immersed in classical except for the fact that I just loved the music and I wanted to be a part of it. …