Four Beethoven cycles with Saleem Ashkar

Saleem Ashkar, one of the greatest pianists of his generation, plays Beethoven cycles on C. Bechstein concert grands in Berlin, Israel, Osnabrück and Prague. Videos projected onto a big screen before each performance and question-and-answer sessions with the public afterwards establish links between these different places.

Saleem Ashkar’s Beethoven project, which features all thirty-two sonatas by the composer, comprises a concert cycle organized by C. Bechstein and the Konzerthaus in Berlin. Each of the eight performances dedicated to a particular theme will take place at a different venue in the German capital. The next concerts of this concert series will take place on 19 November at Mendelssohn-Remise, on 15 December 2016 at Akademie der Künste, on 9 February at Stilwerk, on 11 March 2017 at Villa Elisabeth, on 5 April 2017 at Pierre Boulez Hall of the Barenboim-Said Akademie and on 4 June 2017 at the Grand Hall of the Konzerthaus Berlin.  


Beethoven past and present

For Ashkar, a pianist born in Nazareth, educated in Europe and currently residing in Berlin, Beethoven is a pioneer who revolutionized music: “I wanted to understand the context in which he composed his works better; know how they were appreciated in his time and since.” Indeed, Beethoven always looked to push the boundaries between political systems, religions, individuals and society, and enrich the technical possibilities available to musicians and even the public’s listening habits. The different venues chosen for Ashkar’s performances reflect these different facets of Beethoven’s human and cultural heritage. 
Further information on this cycle:  


Beethoven in Israel

Saleem Ashkar has also scheduled a Beethoven cycle in Israel. Five of the eight performances have already taken place in Nazareth, Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv at fitting venues to illustrate the country’s religious diversity, such as churches and the Islamic university. Videos filmed in these symbolic locations will be projected onto a screen before each of his Berlin concerts. Ashkar will give three more performances on a C. Bechstein grand in Israel in January 2017.     


Beethoven in the Orient

On 3 September Saleem Ahskar started another Beethoven series on a C. Bechstein grand. As part of the "Morgenland-Festival" Ashkar gave two great concerts. Two more concerts of this cycle are scheduled for 10 November and 8 December at the Felix-Nussbaum-Haus Osnabrück and four more concerts in 2017. The venue is a museum dedicated to the painter Felix Nussbaum, who was born in Osnabrück in 1904 and murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. This cycle is backed by Pianohaus Kemp, a C. Bechstein dealer for the Bielefeld/Osnabrück region.  


Beethoven in Prague

On October 3rd the Nazareth-born pianist gave the first recital of his Beethoven Residency series at the St. Agnes Convent, one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture in the Czech capital. Ashkar performed the sonatas Op. 2 No. 3, Op. 31 No. 2, Op. 54 and Op. 101 with power and lucency, with heart and mind! The next concerts of this concert series will take place on 12 December 2016, 6 February 2017 and 3 April 2017.


Why did Saleem Ashkar choose C. Bechstein pianos for his four Beethoven cycles? The former pupil of Daniel Barenboim answers the question himself: “C. Bechstein concert grands offer everything a pianist could possibly wish for: a crisp, richly colored sound, excellent dynamics and a singing voice that’s second to none.”


Photos © Liudmila Jeremies/ C. Bechstein

More about Saleem Ashkar