Special Beethoven performance by Arne Sahlen this weekend in Kimberley and Cranbrook

Arne Sahlen will present “Beethoven – the man, the music, the marvel” in Kimberley and Cranbrook this Sunday, September 29: 3:00 pm at Kimberley United Church (10 Boundary St, near Centennial Park) and 6:00 pm at The Dwelling Place (2324 2nd Street S, near Cranbrook golf course). Early evening in Cranbrook allows for daylight driving. Admission is by donation toward piano tuning and repairs at the two multi-use sites.

Sahlen moved to Kimberley in 1981 – for a few years. “I’m now in Year 39 as a happy East Kootenay boy! We may live in one EK centre, but we tend to join together in arts, sports, education, social service and more.” He has begun his 51st year teaching piano, theory and composing. “Both your skillful teaching and your warm, caring presence are inspiring…You really have a wonderful teaching gift” are sample responses.

Sahlen has volunteered for decades in the arts – and in human service, including for Cambodia and for seniors and youth-at-risk in Canada. As a Home Support Mentor for the Ministry of Children and Family Development, he gained written thanks: “You gave more than any formal caregiver and you gave unconditionally … allowing for love and patience to do their magic. I recognised you as an adult of compassion and honesty … with the intention to enrich the life of the young person.” He received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in Year 2000.

Unlike Mozart’s courtly upbringing, Beethoven’s was rough indeed. His musician father Johann had seen ‘boy wonder’ Mozart. Set on making the same of son Ludwig, Johann would stagger home drunk and wake the boy at midnight to practise. A real Tiger Dad of the day, he slapped Ludwig for any mistakes, and advertised him at two years below real age for the first public concert.

As pianist-composer, Beethoven burst on late-1700s Germany to great favour. He also had critics – lifelong and even after his death in 1827. “…this nightmare — a raw and undigested mass!” (Eighth Symphony, 1855 review). “…oh, the pages of stupid and hopelessly vulgar music! The unspeakable cheapness…” (Ninth Symphony, 1899). But critic E.T.A. Hoffman wrote of the great Fifth Symphony, “… gigantic shadows … close in on us and destroy all but the pain of endless longing—with full-voiced harmonies of all the passions…” In 1977 its First Movement left Earth on phonograph records in the NASA Voyager probes, carrying our images and sounds in case of discovery by deep-space beings.

Crippling Beethoven’s top early triumph came hearing loss, made total by poor medical care of the time. The ravages of deafness drove him to produce ever more profound – and renowned – music. That badly-reviewed Ninth Symphony celebrated the 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall in a command performance.

Sahlen’s talks tie in with the next Symphony of the Kootenays performance. At 3:00 pm on Sunday, October 6, “The Fifth”, will present Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Fifth Piano Concerto, and more at the Key City Theatre. Sahlen’s talks will include these works, in order to encourage wider appreciation of their stupendous, historic import.

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