HERSHEY FELDER, BEETHOVEN
By Iride Aparicio
Felder’s photos By: Hershey Felder Presents
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- After his triumphal impersonation of American composer Irving Berlin, a show that surpassed all previous tickets' sales for a Theatre Works Silicon Valley’s Performance, Playwright, Actor, and Concert pianist HERSHEY FELDER returns to the South Bay in “HERSHEY FELDER Beethoven” another one man musical for which he wrote the book, and in which he represents different people who knew Beethoven, relates short episodes of the composer's life, and impersonates Beethoven when playing his compositions at the piano.
FELDER’s new revised musical-theatrical story about Beethoven is unique; starting with its choreography. What we see in the the Center for the Performing Arts' stage in Mountain View” as we enter the theatre, are rows of grayish tomb stones, in different shapes and sizes, with the tallest ones in the back. It is a grim dark cemetery, lighted only by the dim orange light of three candles inside lantern-shaped lamps that are hanging from a tall rod iron pole standing on one side. But unlike any other cemetery, this one has a grand piano standing in the center.
"HERSHEY FELDER, Beethoven" starts with FELDER, dressed like a gentleman from the 1800’s kneeling on the floor, on stage front, looking inside a silver metal box that he is holding with both his hands.
He identifies himself, (to the audience) as Beethoven’s only friend, who was given that box that contains Beethoven’s skull and some bones from his head, that people did not want to be buried with the body of the composer when he died in Vienna, (The Austrian Empire) on March 26, 1827, because the authorities want to take these bones and analyze them in the future, so they would finally determined what killed the composer. He explains that he was given a choice to bury the box or not to bury it.
After that, FELDER changes role and starts playing the role of the man’s little son, asking his father who was the vagrant-looking man talking to himself, that he (the father) greeted that day on the street. Returning to play the “father’s role, he explains to his son, that the man was his best an only friend who he had not talked with for ten years. because they had a fight, and that the vagrant-looking man was the great composer Ludwig Van Beethoven.
Impersonating the young boy, FELDER admits that Beethoven, who was his father’s hero, had also a great effect on him (the young boy who was his student at one time) and began talking about his music. The dark music that Beethoven composed in honor of Napoleon Bonaparte
The revelation send us back to the year l782, when young Beethoven, was the pupil of CHRISTIAN GOHLOB NEEFE and sits at the piano playing his first composition: “Variations on a March by Dressler” that as Beethoven, is masterfully interpreted by FELDER.
We will fill FELDER's story by adding that a year later, (l783) Beethoven, was appointed Continuo Player at the Bonn Opera where he continue working until l787. And join FELDER' story on that year, which was the year when Emperor Maximilian of Austria, decided to send him to Vienna, to study with Mozart.
FELDER’s play describes to the audience a MOZART (also played by him) who was very nasty towards Beethoven, but according to the same episode described in the pages of the BRITANNICA BOOK OF MUSIC, Mozart actually recognized Beethoven’s talent and was impressed by him, and the reason why Beethoven had to return to Bonn, two weeks later, was because his mother died. As we all know, in l792 Beethoven left Bonn, and never returned.
The composer's music has unique characteristics, that we could detect if we know a little music and have a sharp ear because FELDER's piano renditions of Beethoven's pieces in his role of Beethoven are masterfully played.
Like other composers of his generation, by l790 Beethoven became subjected to the influences of popular music and folk music demonstrated in his early songs, with Heavy Rhineland dance rhythms found in many of his more mature compositions. He also assimilated other local rhythms such as Italian, French, Slavic, and even Celtic
Also present in Beethoven’s music is the “Mannheim” preoccupation with extremes in sounds Piano (very soft) and Forte (very loud) which by l778 was a fundamental element of his style, and that he often played in contradiction with the musical phrasing.
His compositions also use “outburst" and the wide leaping arpeggio figure which are known as the “Mannheim rockets” which are central to the “personality” of his music and later helped him in the liberation of his instrumental music from its dependence in vocal styles.
Musically, "HERSHEY FELDER BEETHOVEN," directed by JOEL ZWICK, is marvelous. The story of Beethoven's live, however, because it may not be familiar to the audience, as presented, is confusing. One reason is that it has too many characters: Beethoven, his nephew, Mozart, Beethoven's friend and his son and without a wig or a hat to differentiate them, at times, we lose the thread of the story. However, just to be able to listen to FELDER's master interpretations of BEETHOVEN’s “The Moonlight Sonata” “Fur Elise” and the Night symphony” to name a few, makes FELDER’s one man show a ‘Must see” for classical music lover
The show will be shown at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts until July 9, 2017. For information or to order tickets call (650) 463-1960 or go online to TheatreWorks.org.