Victor Rosenbaum Crescendos Through Beethoven’s Symphonies

Striking a rapid succession of keys, acclaimed pianist Victor Rosenbaum played the opening notes of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Opus 53, also known as “Waldstein.” Slowing down for the piece’s second movement, Rosenbaum pressed the keys gently before quickening his pace for the third movement.

For an audience of about 70 people in Cochran Chapel on Friday night, guest pianist Rosenbaum performed a two-hour solo piano concert. This is Rosenbaum’s second visit to campus after he taught a piano master class here last spring.

Rosenbaum performed a variety of Beethoven’s sonatas, musical compositions typically consisting of two to four movements, and bagatelles, which are short, light pieces.

“This particular group of pieces I chose because I thought [the songs] represented various aspects of creativity, various periods, various moods and characters, and I thought the pieces would balance each other well,” said Rosenbaum.

Rosenbaum also played Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, a piece composed in the 18th century that is often referred to as the “Pathetique” Sonata. While the first movement of the sonata is rapid and intense, the second movement consists of a slower and more tranquil melody.

“I liked the leading melody [of Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13] because it reminded me of what I had listened to in the past, but I really liked how [Rosenbaum] interpreted it. He would go really high up with high dynamics and suddenly drop and go very soft… I’m a pianist, so I know it’s very hard to make those sudden changes, and I really appreciate how he did it,” said Gherardo Morona ’17, an audience member.

Rosenbaum also played Six Bagatelles Op. 126, a piece that Beethoven dedicated to his brother. The piece features a range of speeds and moods giving each bagatelle its own distinct character. The second bagatelle, for example, had a frantic pace and an excited tone, while the sixth bagatelle used lower, slower and more dramatic notes.

Rosenbaum was the Chair of the New England Conservatory’s Piano Department for more than ten years and has performed as a soloist and chamber music performer in many places including Chicago, Tokyo, St. Petersburg, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

“[Rosenbaum] was chosen to give a concert here because he is internationally recognized as both a performer and teacher, and he lives close by in Boston… Everything he played on Friday night was the result of a lifetime of study and devotion to music of the classical period. Students — and I’m happy to say there were many there — will have learned much from his beautifully articulated performance,” wrote Christopher Walter, Instructor in Music, in an email to The Phillipian.