What did we do in 2020? The world did a pandemic. The UK did Brexit. I did Beethoven.
I finished writing a book about Beethoven. I wrote a bunch of articles about Beethoven and I wrote a bunch of articles about writing a book about Beethoven. I made a video with a musician, the fabulous Mishka Rushdie Momen, at the Wigmore Hall where I read from my book about Beethoven and she played some Beethoven on the piano. I played some Beethoven on the piano – I learned Op. 31 No. 3 and the ‘Waldstein’ and I wrote an article about learning the ‘Waldstein’. My big new piece with Roxanna Panufnik about Beethoven for the Berlin Philharmonie had to be cancelled (hopefully back in 2022). My Beethoven concerts with Viv McLean and others had to be cancelled. My trip to do Beethoven in Australia had to be cancelled. I reviewed some CDs and even a recital or two at the Wigmore Hall where Beethoven was played. Others had to be cancelled. I talked to musicians about Beethoven in person, on the phone, on Zoom. I was in videos talking about Beethoven and talking to musicians about Beethoven. I presented some Beethoven events on Zoom including a video launch for my book. I spent part of December chasing Krystian Zimerman and Simon Rattle around parts of east London trying to make some videos talking to them about Beethoven. I heard them playing some Beethoven concertos at LSO St Luke’s and it was heaven. I saw Fidelio twice at Covent Garden and many times online. I talked to musicians about Fidelio. I listened to my husband learning the Beethoven Violin Concerto while I was writing my articles about Beethoven. I heard one of Tasmin Little’s farewell recitals, in which she played a Beethoven sonata gorgeously. I read articles about Beethoven and books about Beethoven and listened to radio programmes about Beethoven and watched TV programmes about Beethoven, and then I reviewed a book about Mozart for the Sunday Times. I think I had Covid back in February, but that was before it made the big time, and I had to cancel going to a Beethoven concert because of it. Yes, there was a global pandemic, Brexit “got done”, it felt as if everything had to be cancelled and our musicians are in appalling, desperate financial trouble, with no end yet in sight, but Beethoven just went on getting everywhere.
And in the summer we got away to Germany, where we walked up some mountains, rowed across a lake, saw wonderful friends and ate more oysters, and more wonderful oysters, than I have ever seen or eaten in all my life.
Hooray for Beethoven. Hooray for oysters. Boo to Brexit. Our country used to be flawed, but workable; we had the best musical life in the world. That’s finished. We’ll muddle through, but the golden age is over. Beethoven will survive.
Next, I think I might learn some Mendelssohn.