What did the earwig say as he fell off the cliff?

What did the earwig say as he fell off the cliff? “Earwig-oh!” So it’s in this spirit that I embark once more, almost certainly for the last time, on the mad journey of performing all the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in a single day, at St Martin-in-the-Fields on Tuesday October 15th from 9:15 am to 10 pm. (Yes I know the new ABRSM edition has 35 sonatas including three teenage works without opus numbers, and I played them in my last cycle at The Forge, but enough’s enough…)

Though people seem to think I’m always doing it, I have in fact done it only twice before, in 2003 (which earned me a chapter, “Marathon Man”, in Brian Levison’s book “Classical Music’s Strangest Concerts and Characters”), and a year later by invitation of Mr Tom Glaser at Harrow Arts Centre. After the 2004 event I vowed I’d never do it again – but about two years ago I began to brood on whether or not I should, or could, do it once more as a tenth anniversary of the 2003 marathon at St James Piccadilly. All sorts of good reasons stacked up for not doing it: I’m too old, it’s too risky, too hard work, is it really artistically valid to do it at all? – and here I am, at retirement-age deciding to push myself once more to play for twelve and three quarter hours from memory with minimal breaks. The only change is that I am taking the “Hammerklavier” out of sequence and doing it separately as the lunchtime recital – it’s just too cruel to have to embark on that piece when one’s been playing already for nine hours. Otherwise they will be in chronological order. As before proceeds will go to my favourite charity WaterAid, only this time shared with The Connection (St Martin’s homeless charity).

In St James Piccadilly where I did the first marathon – though this is considerably later than 2003 I’m afraid. They didn’t have the Fazioli then either, but a rather tricky Bösendorfer. – Photo by Lester Barnes

This blog will convey some of my thoughts and experiences as I come up to the day.
Please feel free to comment!

Tickets for the evening performance of the Beethoven Marathon can be bought online from the St Martin-in-the-Fields website.


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