One of the greatest and most monumental sonatas in the violin repertoire was composed by Beethoven and is usually referred to as the “Kreutzer” Sonata. The reason for that is an intriguing story in itself and has great bearing upon my novel, Danse Macabre.
Beethoven actually composed the piece in great haste for a black violinist who was the European sensation of the day and whose name was George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower. Bridgetower was on a concert tour that took him to Vienna and Beethoven wanted to impress him and the public with a new, grand sonata. It was so hot off the press that at the premiere he and Polgreen sight-read some the piece off the piano score.
Nevertheless it was a huge success, and after the performance the new buddies, Ludwig and George, went off to the beirstube to celebrate. Unfortunately, they both probably drank too many lagers, because they got into an argument–some say it was something that Bridgetower said about one of Beethoven’s lady friends. Regardless of the exact reason, Beethoven tore up his dedication. But always the pragmatist, decided that Rodolphe Kreutzer, the great Parisian violinist, would make his new sonata famous (and profitable), and so rededicated it to him.
The irony is that Kreutzer, when he finally saw the piece, didn’t like it and never played it! Yet, it is one of the main things that has made his name famous, and at the same time, Bridgetower’s name has faded into the annals of dusty music history.
How does this relate to Danse Macabre? Well, we have a young, somewhat brash African American violinist who has rebranded himself by the name of BTower. He’s a super talented violinist, but has made his fame as a crossover artist, much to the dismay of the concert world establishment. At a critical point in the story, after being challenged by our hero, Daniel Jacobus, BTower becomes fixated on the opening note of the “Kreutzer” Sonata. His rivalry with the beloved virtuoso, Rene Allard, is the source of public gossip, so when Allard is brutally murdered…
You’ll be able to hear excerpts of my performance of the “Kreutzer” Sonata and much more on the Danse Macabre audiobook, but for now enjoy the entire first movement: http://www.geraldelias.com/music_DM_beethoven.html