LIVESTREAM: Julian Jacobson Playing All 32 Beethoven Sonatas in a Single Day

By James Inverne on Oct 15, 2013 05:54 PM EDT

It's not a world's first--Stewart Goodyear did it at the Mondavi Center recently in the U.S. In 1984, Gary Goldschneider did the same in San Francisco. And Julian Jacobson, who at the time of writing is still doing it at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, has done it before--a decade ago, in 2003. But still, it's hardly something you see or hear every day (in fact, as far as I can tell, nobody apart from those three has attempted it). The amazing feat? Playing every single one of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas in a single day.

Jacobson, a respected soloist and one time Louis Kentner pupil, knows how to rise to an occasion. If he does something, he clearly does it properly--this Beethoven marathon was performed with only two half-hour breaks (and lots of five-minute breaks) and from memory. That's right. The whole lot.

I sat in for one of the sonatas (just one--no half-measures for Jacobson, but lots for me on a busy Tuesday, I'm afraid) and the lunchtime house was pretty full. If Jacobson was tiring, he didn't yet show it, with performances abounding in grace, fluency and textural detail. By 10 p.m. GMT, the time the event was due to finish, he might have been at half-speed with his head slumped on the piano lid--but somehow I doubt it.

The day is live-streamed at If watching online, as those in the church, viewers can donate money to the charities the event is promoting, WaterAid and The Connection.

So, what next for Mr. Jacobson? All Mozart solo piano music in a day? Chopin? Probably a well-earned rest. And no piano for a week, doctor's orders.

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TagsLivestream, Julian Jacobson, Beethoven, Piano Sonata, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Stewart Goodyear, Gary Goldschneider, Louis Kentner, WaterAid, The Connection

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