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‘Beethoven is the center of my life’

Beethoven specialist Rudolf Buchbinder begins Korean tour

Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder, an influential Beethoven expert, is to share his understanding of the maestro with the Korean audience through a six-day concert tour.

The renowned Austrian pianist, who has put on more than 50 performances of Beethoven’s complete 32 sonata cycle and has recorded the set three times, is to delight the locals with a series of recitals across the nation from Tuesday to Sunday.

Titled “Rudolf Buchbinder & Beethoven,” the series will comprise a selection of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, chosen by the pianist himself.

“You will always discover something new in Beethoven’s music, as long as you live,” Buchbinder said in an email interview with The Korea Herald.
Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder (Vincero Arts Management & Entertainment)
Pianist Rudolf Buchbinder (Vincero Arts Management & Entertainment)

“Beethoven is not only a center of my repertoire, but also in my life. The personality (has) fascinated me since my childhood. It is not important to be an expert of music. It is important to love music and I will try my best to satisfy the public with my interpretation,” he said.

The year 2020 marks 250 years since Beethoven’s birth, and numerous performances are set to take place next year in celebration of his life and work. But for the 73-year-old pianist, every year is a year to celebrate the maestro.

“I will play Beethoven after 2020 as well,” he said. “I’m worried that my Beethoven in 2020 is nothing special compared to my other seasons.”

As a fervent score collector, the pianist currently owns 39 editions of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas. He was known to have 35 sets in the early 2010s, but the number has increased since then.

When asked what he would discuss with Beethoven if he could meet him in person, Buchbinder answered that “subjects don’t matter to me.”

“I can talk to him 24 hours non-stop,” he said. “You know it was once my actual dream. (In the dream) we were sitting in the corner of Beethoven’s room.”

Though Buchbinder is an expert on Beethoven, his repertoire is not limited to the musician. He has recorded more than 100 albums, featuring contemporary music pieces as well.

Meanwhile, the Korean recital tour marks the pianist’s first performance here in six years.

“I love coming to Korea! Audience is so fantastic especially when young people join my concerts, which I think is very important. Looking forward to meet you all soon!” Buchbinder said.

The recital program includes Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 10, Sonata No. 13, Sonata No. 8 “Pathetique,” Sonata No. 2 and Sonata No. 23 “Appassionata.”

The final recital is scheduled to take place at the Seoul Arts Center on Sunday. Before the performance, Buchbinder will be visiting Daegu, Gwangju and eastern Seoul, starting Tuesday.

By Im Eun-byel (