Steinway Artist and Lewisburg resident Barbara Nissman has produced eight new programs for her “Behind the Notes” series of online conversations and performances of classical composers. Adding to her original 12-part series, the new series features work by composers Chopin, Schumann, Prokofiev, Bartok, as well as four sonatas of Beethoven. Recorded in her home studio in Greenbrier County, Nissman has donated “Behind The Notes” as a fundraiser for Carnegie Hall.
In each video Nissman connects both her performance and the listener to the music and its composer. She makes the music relevant to her audience, spinning out wonderful tales that we need to hear, especially now when access to in-person conversations and performances are limited. Nissman created the series in a specific order so that each segment builds scaffolding that enhances the viewer’s experience of the following parts of the series.
The first program of the new eight-part series is Even More Chopin! Nissman introduces the viewer to more “comfort food” from the popular composer Frédéric Chopin; the story behind his Fantasy in F minor and the drama of his C minor Nocturne. Nissman concludes with his beautiful and dramatic Scherzo in Bb minor.
The program continues with romantic composer Robert Schumann. Nissman performs “Widmung,” composed as a wedding present for his bride Clara, and the finger-breaking Toccata that ended Schumann’s career as a pianist. She continues with his2nd sonata in G minor, which is the work Clara played on her concert tours. She concludes with his touching Traumerei.
Program No. 15 features More Prokofiev! Nissman introduces the viewer to this giant of the 20th century and begins with his first opus written when Sergei Prokofiev was 15-years-old. Nissman continues with his “Fleeting Visions” as well as his finger-breaking Toccata. There is no doubt that Prokofiev was a wonderful pianist—just listen to his Third Sonata. Nissman also shares with us the Gavotte from his Classical Symphony and concludes with his famous Marche from the “Love of the Three Oranges.”
The second half of the series begins with another giant of the 20th century, Bartók. Nissman begins the program with Béla Bartók’s famous Allergro Barbaro followed by one of his Rumanian Dances. Some selections from his Mikrokosmos, a book of teaching pieces written for his young son Peter, are also heard and Nissman performs and discusses his masterpiece Out of Doors.
The last four programs focus on four sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven. The first of these is Beethoven: “Les Adieux.” Nissman shares some of the sonatas of Beethoven that she has been preparing for recording. Beethoven wrote this sonata for his good friend and patron, the Archduke Rudolf. He bids him good-bye in the first movement, misses him in the second and happily awaits his return in the final movement.
Program No. 18 is Beethoven: Sonata Op. 31 #3. This is one of Beethoven’s funnier sonatas especially the first movement. Nissman shares how she arrived at her interpretation of this wonderful work. The finale is quite virtuosic and even includes some “hunting calls.”
Program No. 19 Beethoven: Sonata Op. 28 “The Pastoral” is one of Beethoven’s most beautiful sonatas. Nissman takes us “behind the notes” and shares how she arrived at her interpretation of this wonderful four-movement work.
The last program in the new series is Beethoven: Sonata “The Tempest.” With this masterwork, Beethoven makes the viewer imagine the storm that is brewing and introduces us to an interesting cast of characters. Nissman shows why listeners admire the genius and craftsmanship of this gifted composer. He has left us music to enjoy and rediscover over a lifetime.
“We are so lucky to have a great supporter like Barbara in our community,” exclaims Development Director Sally Bray. Her “Behind the Notes” series has been a successful fundraiser for the Hall and we are so excited to share the new eight-part series. Perfect timing for the holidays.”
To purchase the new series (Programs 13-20) or access the first series (Programs 1-12) visit carnegiehallwv.org/special-events/behind-the-notes. For a $50 or higher donation to Carnegie Hall, viewers will have access to the new 8-part online series. All proceeds from the series will support Carnegie Hall.