Beethoven Endurance Test: The 32-Sonata Marathon

Hear all 32 Beethoven Sonatas, Live in The Greene Space

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Update: Our marathon has ended. Thanks to everyone who participated. Listen to highlights from Sunday's event here.

How many pianists does it take to perform all 32 Beethoven sonatas? Find out this Sunday, November 20 at 11 am in The Greene Space. Each and every sonata will be performed live, over 12 hours, by vibrant, young pianists. A highlight of Beethoven Awareness Month, you can stay for any two-hour interval of the event (for five to six sonatas), or, for $50, make it a full day. The day pass also gets you free coffee, tea, and a WQXR gift bag.

A core part of the keyboard literature, as eminent musicologist Charles Rosen explains, the 32 piano sonatas “form one of the most important collections of works in the whole history of music.”

Hosted by Midge Woolsey and Terrance McKnight, featured pianists include: Alessio Bax, Inon Barnatan, Benjamin Hochman, Valentina Lisitsa, Timothy Andres, Joyce Yang, Jonathan Biss, Jeremy Denk, Steven Beck and Natasha Paremski. The event will also be video webcast below and (audio) webcast on's all-Beethoven stream.


Here's the breakdown for the day. 

Part One: 11 am to 1 pm

Marina Radiushina – Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 2, No. 1

Hyung Min Suh – Sonata No. 4 in E-flat Major, Op. 7, “Grand Sonata”

Philip Edward Fisher – Sonata No. 10 in G Major, Op. 14, No. 2

Evan Shinners – Sonata No. 11 in B-flat Major, Op. 22

LISTEN: Alessio Bax (pictured, right) – Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13, “Pathétique”


Part Two: 1 pm to 3 pm

Daria Rabotkina (pictured, right) – Sonata No. 2 in A Major, Op. 2, No. 2

LISTEN: Michael Brown – Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op. 28, “Pastoral”

Michael Brown – Sonata No. 22 in F Major, Op. 54

LISTEN: Inon Barnatan – Sonata No. 27 in E Minor, Op. 90

Qi Xu – Sonata No. 25 in G Major, Op. 79

Alessio Bax – Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110


Part Three: 3 pm to 5 pm

Ching-Yun Hu – Sonata No. 3 in C Major, Op. 2, No.3

Yuchong Wu – Sonata No. 19 in G Minor, Op. 49, No. 1

Yuchong Wu – Sonata No. 20 in G Major, Op. 49, No. 2

Inon Barnatan – Sonata No. 6 in F Major, Op. 10, No.2

Benjamin Hochman (pictured, right) – Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57, “Appassionata”

Ching-Yun Hu – Sonata No. 28 in A Major, Op. 101


Part Four: 5 pm to 7 pm

Benjamin Hochman – Sonata No. 7 in D Major, Op. 10, No.3

LISTEN: Valentina Lisitsa – Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, “Moonlight”

Drew Petersen – Sonata No. 16 in G Major, Op. 31, No. 1

Timothy Andres (pictured, right) – Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53, “Waldstein”

Steven Beck – Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Op. 109


Part Five: 7 pm to 9 pm 

Louis Schwizgebel – Sonata No. 9 in E Major, Op. 14, No. 1

Jonathan Biss – Sonata No. 12 in A-flat Major, Op. 26, “Funeral March”

Joyce Yang (pictured, right) – Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3, “The Hunt”

Timonthy Andres – Sonata No. 24 in F-sharp Major, Op. 78, “A Thérèse”

Jeremy Denk – Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, “Hammerklavier”


Part Six: 9 pm to 11 pm

Jonathan Biss – Sonata No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 10, No. 1

David Kaplan – Sonata No. 13 in E-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 1, “Quasi una Fantasia”

Natasha Paremski – Sonata No. 17 in D Minor, Op. 31, No. 2, “Tempest”

Louis Schwizgebel – Sonata No. 26 in E-flat Major, Op. 81a, “Les adieux”

Jeremy Denk (pictured, right) – Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111

Comments [33]

Vera from New York

Evan Shinners' perfomance was far superior than anyone else's.
Not only does he play the music, lives it, breathes it, enjoys it ; he takes the audience in an engrossing discovery of how modern and fun classical music can be!
Where can we hear him again?

Nov. 23 2011 12:22 AM
Yu-Yun Hsieh from upper west

Evan Shinners’ performance was phenomenal in terms of his skill and his style. He showed us his attitude before he appropriated Beethoven to make his playful but profound statement. He has utter genius and sparkling charisma. A true rocker outshines the classical stage.

Nov. 21 2011 07:03 PM

Come on! A third of these comments are about Evan Shinners! Where are the pictures of him! the videos! Why don't you put his performance up! Dont you know what your own public likes?!

Nov. 21 2011 02:54 PM
Gerry DeChaves from Summit, New Jersey

A glorious event. As a previous listener indicates, the “Live” performances made one think as being part of it. A brilliant undertaking and yes, more of these should be done as regular programming over the air and not just streaming on the internet. I had to travel and could not listen while in the car. It was a great day. Thanks.

Nov. 21 2011 12:30 PM
Deborah Spencer from New York City

The time flew by. It was transporting

Nov. 21 2011 12:21 PM
LES from WDC

Really awesome programming. A win for the station, the listners, and the performers. The fact that it was live made all the difference. Even listening online, it had the intimacy of being at a club. Consider making it an annual fall event, and like the Met does, maybe stream it live outdoors at Lincoln Center and other places too, Grand Central station, etc.

Nov. 21 2011 11:50 AM
d siff

What a glorious event. Would that it had been more available in broadcast format. Alongside the anthill of your regular programming, this was a musical Everest.

Nov. 21 2011 11:43 AM

Phenomenal event. Evan Shinners blew the roof off the place — such a great contrast with the other performers. They were all brilliant, but Shinners stood apart with the most exciting performance of the day. I hope this becomes an annual NYC event.

Nov. 21 2011 10:00 AM
Tusia Kovner from New York

Valentina Lisitsa and Evan Shinners performances impressed me most of all.

Shinners' energetics and charisma are something. He is an extraordinary pianist. Bravo!

Nov. 21 2011 12:54 AM
Miles Anders from Chicago

This was a wonderful event; I listened and watched all day. Beethoven's music is to be felt as much as heard. All were well prepared, but a few stood out and moved me: Michael Brown, Joyce Yang and most definitively Evan Shinners. His command of the music and playful irreverence delivered a heartfelt passion and strength. Bravo to this entire event.

Nov. 20 2011 11:51 PM
susan from hells kitchen

I don't normally listen to classical music but after moving to NYC I have been listening to WQXR. A friend mentioned the live webcast so I tuned in. Really enjoyed it! The pianist I remember the most is the guy in the striped pants. I would like to see him again; very exciting!!

Nov. 20 2011 11:48 PM
Shawna from Upper West

"Lastly I was having another technical problem. I am not sure if any other listeners also were having the same problem but for a considerable amount of time I was having ‘echo’ same sound chasing same sound after few seconds overlapping. It was really bothering. Also, video stopped frequently. My computer has 2GB CPU. Isn’t that enough to play this kind of program, both sound and video without disruption? Youradvice is appreciated"

Dunno what to say ! to this one i mean!!!

Nov. 20 2011 11:48 PM
justin b

evan $hinners is a soo gangsta.. dat dude more street then eminem n wayne

Nov. 20 2011 11:40 PM

ok!!!! I just got finished listening to EVERYTHING! the whole day! from early morning to now and I had never really experienced beethoven s Before so I was SUPER!! glad to hear this!!!
favorites: the 16 year old chinese Boy, Evan Shinners*, John Biss and the last one was good too!

*wow what pants!!!

Nov. 20 2011 11:30 PM
Karen from Peekskill, NY

This was an extraordinary experience- I watched part of it online and part of it in the Greenespace. The pianists were all fabulous, and it was quite fascinating to hear their different styles back to back. Most of all, Beethoven's piano music is profound and transcendent. I was entertained, intrigued, and deeply moved.

Nov. 20 2011 11:13 PM
Timothy J Brown from Washington, DC

This was an extraordinary event. Deep gratitude for putting it together. Will these performance be available on your website?

Nov. 20 2011 11:13 PM
yichihara from NJ

Regrettably I was unable to attend the live marathon at Greene Space due to a prior obligation. But as soon as I got home after 9pm, I run to my computer and ‘check in’ WQXR. I had difficulty tuning in the Marathon; although I first clicked on ‘ON AIR’ and then ‘Beethoven’ tag, my comp caught the regular program, St. Paul on Sunday first, then for a while it and the Marathon was overlapping. I clicked on everywhere around and finally was able to tune in. (Suggestion for WQXR: For the next event like this, you need clear instruction for listeners. Especially I stress this after reading another listener’s comment here.) I missed Jonathan Bliss’s performance, which I really wanted to see, but enjoyed, was much amused with the other young pianists’ exquisite performances, whom I did not know, except Jeremy Denk. Glad I did not miss his last performance. Lastly I was having another technical problem. I am not sure if any other listeners also were having the same problem but for a considerable amount of time I was having ‘echo’ same sound chasing same sound after few seconds overlapping. It was really bothering. Also, video stopped frequently. My computer has 2GB CPU. Isn’t that enough to play this kind of program, both sound and video without disruption? Youradvice is appreciated. At this moment I am listening Denk’s wonderful performance at the very last moment. Thank you, all! and Do it again!

Nov. 20 2011 11:02 PM
Numa from Greenburgh NY

What a treat! Thanks so much to all who made this happen.

Nov. 20 2011 10:54 PM
Stanley Rick from NYC

OMG! Where did this Evan Shinners come from? !? How come I didnt hear of him till today! that guy stood out like a God among men!

Nov. 20 2011 10:51 PM

What a great Sunday! Thank you for the broadcast on the App! Despite of the distance, I had enjoy hearing those wonderful pianists! And I still doing it!!! That's simply amazing!

Nov. 20 2011 08:47 PM
Ken from Manhattan

What a wonderful treat to have heard these Beethoven sonatas played so beautifully by these young pianists. I am in my late 70's and grew up hearing Giseking, Myra Hess, Schnable and the rest.

Great to know that the tradition will be carried on by these young artists. Thanks for this wonderful day!

Nov. 20 2011 08:22 PM
Meredith from nyc

thanks for doing this wonderful project...i'm enjoying it immensely on line....all the pianists are superb....what a great experience

Nov. 20 2011 07:56 PM
Tony Jahn from New York

What a great day! And a special treat for someone who grew up on Schnabel to hear these great young artists.
Can I make a suggestion? Could you do a concert in the future of Beethoven variations? Beyond the Diabelli and Eroica, there are other very fine and seldom performed pieces, such as the "Waldmaedchen" variations.
Just a thought. Thaks again!
Thanks for

Nov. 20 2011 05:36 PM
Iain Blaikie from Stratford-Upon-Avon UK

Hello New York from England.
I am staying up all night ( 5 hours ahead of you.... ) to enjoy the marathon. Ching-Yun Hu was absolutely sublime. Looking forward to her second appearance. What genius and style!

Nov. 20 2011 04:08 PM
Gracia Levine

Thanks a million for this marvellous experience. Here I am inB razil listeningthe whole day to these great pianists and the most beautiful music. Thanks to Beethoven and WQXR

Nov. 20 2011 03:54 PM
Bernie from UWS

Does anyone else here find it tacky how much real estate is given over to Facebook and Twitter advertisements on this page? They're all over it! Do they pay WQXR to put their name on the site? Come on guys, we're here for the music, not to "friend" you or whatever that means.

Nov. 20 2011 01:42 PM

OMG you're not BROADCASTING the Beethhoven marathon on the radio? Not everyone can conveniently webstream. I can't believe others are enjoying this concert while I'm forced to listen to your endless Neil Sedaka commercial for the 100th time..... What else is a classical radio station for, guys?

Nov. 20 2011 11:37 AM

Joe, yes, you can listen on our all-Beethoven stream, available by simply clicking on "Beethoven" in the player at the top of the site. You can also watch a video webcast on this page. Thanks for listening,

Nov. 20 2011 08:17 AM
Joe from New York

Will this marathon be broadcast tomorrow? Or is it being taped?

Nov. 19 2011 10:29 PM

Ugh, I stalled for too long and apparently now the day passes are sold out! Any chance I can get one at the door? Win one in a contest? I'm dying to see the whole thing.

Nov. 18 2011 04:08 PM

Thanks for the heads up Marie. It was clearly a marathon for our editor too. It's fixed!

Nov. 16 2011 10:06 PM
Marie Smith

The spelling of the pianist's name Drew Peterson should be corrected to read Drew "Petersen". The spelling Petersen is Norwegian.

Nov. 16 2011 09:17 PM
Michael Meltzer

It's interesting that this blog has been here for several days, without commentary. I think that for those who are familiar with the sonatas, there may be as much trepidation as there is natural interest.
Over the years several pianists have done Beethoven cycles. Spread over an entire season, they would offer four sonatas per evening, usually NOT in chronological order, but as balanced and contrasting in period and style as possible.
One that met with great success was Wilhelm Kempf's. Still, people who attended his and others' often commented on how powerful the evenings were, and how emotionally draining, and that's only four at a time. Many if not all of the Beethoven sonatas are like a major life experience, which is why even the most skilled pianists, after taking weeks to learn the notes and master the hurdles, take a lot longer to absorb them and infuse them with their own personal, musical view and understanding. One on an evening's program is usual, and is sometimes the centerpiece.
It will be really interesting to see the commentary afterward, to see how many could actually sit for all 32 and in what condition it left them the following day.

Nov. 16 2011 08:38 PM

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