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Karen Tanaka

Publisher: Chester Music

At the grave of Beethoven (1999)
Commissioned by the Arts Council of England
Chester Music Ltd
Small Ensemble (2-6 players)
Year Composed
9 Minutes
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Programme Note
Karen Tanaka At the grave of Beethoven (1999)
'At the grave of Beethoven' was commissioned by the Brodsky Quartet, on the occasion of the bicentenary anniversary of Beethoven's opus 18. The title suggests admiration and a tribute towards Beethoven, and this work is based on Beethoven's string quartet opus 18 no.3.

Opus 18 no.3 is probably the most gentle and lyrical work in the set. I feel the pure spirit and ardent hope of young Beethoven in it. The first movement of 'At the grave of Beethoven' was inspired by the first four bars of opus 18 no.3. These four bars were developed and interpreted in a contemporary manner, reflecting the tension and anxiety of our life today. The second movement is made by chains of modulations. When I was writing this movement in the spring of 1999, the news from Kosovo was reported on TV every day. I was shocked and horrified by this civil war, and it influenced my writing unconsciously. Along with each modulation, I had images that lotus flowers grow and bloom, in the hope of serenity and peace.

© Karen Tanaka

  • Ensemble
    Brodsky Quartet
    Vanguard Classics:
Karen Tanaka's At the grave of Beethoven, played immediately next to the work by which it was inspired was a surprise…the 'pure spirit and ardent hope' of the young Ludwig inspired an eloquent lyrical and quite tonal tribute, with murmurous accompaniments and beautiful, sad, unfolding textures.
Laurence Hughes, The Independent,13/03/2000
Karen Tanaka's At the grave of Beethoven …turn[ed] what she herself called 'probably the most gentle and lyrical work in the set' into a tense expression of doubt and foreboding…It was like trying to cling to Beethoven while being stuck in a leaky lifeboat on a stormy sea.
Adam Sweeting, The Guardian,10/03/2000
Karen Tanaka, who’s music is normally very avant-garde, produced some incredibly beautiful, instant knock out stuff.
Paul Cassidy, Classic CD,01/03/2000
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