Artur Schnabel was the first pianist to record all of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. He would not be the last. [more inside]
Supernova Sonata by Alex Parker From April, 2003 until August, 2006, the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope watched four parts of the sky as often as possible. Armed with the largest digital camera in the known universe, CFHT monitored these four fields for a special type of supernova (called Type Ia) which are created by the thermonuclear detonation of one or more white-dwarf stars. Each supernova is assigned a note to be played: The volume of the note is determined by the distance to the supernova, with more distant supernova being quieter and fainter. The pitch of the note was determined by the supernova’s “stretch,” a property of how the supernova brightens and fades. Higher stretch values played higher notes. The pitches were drawn from a Phrygian dominant scale. The instrument the note was played on was determined by the properties of the galaxy which hosted each supernova. Supernovae hosted by massive galaxies are played with a stand-up bass, while supernovae hosted by less massive galaxies are played with a grand piano.
Beethoven's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 9 in A, Op. 47 (audio) was originally dedicated to the black violin virtuoso George Bridgetower after he gave such a brilliant rendering of the piece that prompted Beethoven to jump from his seat and embrace him. Bridgetower was a musical child prodigy and composer who, despite rampant racial prejudice, reached "unusual heights in the music world of his day". Having lived and performed in major European cities such as London, Paris, and Vienna, he would later die forgotten and in poverty. A personal disagreement with Bridgetower led Beethoven to dedicate the sonata to the famous violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer instead who, incidentally, never played it in public deeming it “outrageously unintelligible”. [more inside]