Daniel Hope: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert
The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.
Our Tiny Desk (home) concert series has brought us to some very special places, but few can match the distinction of being inside Ludwig Van Beethoven's house.
Violinist Daniel Hope is the current president of Beethoven-Haus, where the great composer was born in 1770 in Bonn, Germany. Far more than a cultural curiosity, the house is, as Hope calls it, "the nerve center" for dozens of Beethoven scholars. It's also a museum, library, publishing house and performance space.
We often ask artists to perform at their own "tiny desk" of some sort. But the desk in this concert cannot be matched. On display, in front of Hope and pianist Sylvia Thereza, is Beethoven's own traveling desk, a compact model he used to write letters and perhaps compose music.
The music Hope chose for this special performance makes a most unexpected connection between Beethoven and St. Patrick's Day. Beginning around 1810, Beethoven was commissioned to arrange his own versions of folk tunes from the British Isles. These were intended for amateurs to play at home, but with Beethoven nothing was ever easy. One of these tunes, a theme with variations, is called "St. Patrick's Day," which fits with Hope's Irish heritage. The violinist begins with a bittersweet arrangement of the Londonderry Air, better known as "Danny Boy" when sung. But the soul of this concert is surely the slow movement of Beethoven's Sixth Violin Sonata, with its aching melody that unfolds like prayerful song, wafting through the halls where the composer once walked.
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