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Music, lecture, readings at Illinois to celebrate author Thomas Mann

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A musical performance, lecture and readings – all commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of one of Germany’s greatest 20th-century writers, Nobel laureate Thomas Mann – will be presented Thursday (Dec. 1) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The concert-lecture, titled “Thomas Mann, Beethoven und das Geheimnis von Opus 111” (“Thomas Mann, Beethoven and the Secret of Opus 111”), will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Smith Memorial Hall, 805 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana. The event is sponsored by Illinois’ department of Germanic languages and literatures.

William Kinderman, a professor of musicology at Illinois, will offer comments illustrated at the piano, “somewhat in the spirit of Mann’s character Wendell Kretschmar,” Kinderman said.
Members of the German department, including Oliver Stenschke, a visiting scholar from the University of Göttingen, Germany, will read excerpts from Mann’s novel, “Doctor Faustus.” Readings will be in German; English texts will be available.

The event will conclude with Kinderman’s complete performance of Beethoven’s last piano sonata, Opus 111 in C minor.

A reception will follow the performance in the Lucy Ellis Lounge, 1080 Foreign Languages Building, 707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1929 for his early novels, “Buddenbrooks,” “Death in Venice” and “The Magic Mountain.” He is best known for “Doctor Faustus,” a modern version of the medieval legend.

Kinderman’s research focuses on 18th- to early 20th-century music, especially the works of Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and Wagner.

His publications include such books as “A Companion to Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ ” (2005, co-written with Katerine Syer), and “The String Quartets of Beethoven” (2005).

Kinderman also wrote “Beethoven,” published in 1995, and a three-volume study of Beethoven’s creative process titled “Artaria 195: Beethoven’s Sketchbook for the ‘Missa Solemnis’ and the Piano Sonata in E major, Opus 10” in 2003. His “Mozart’s Piano Music” will be published next year.

Kinderman’s recordings of Beethoven’s piano works for Hyperion, an independent British classical label, have received critical acclaim, and his compact disc of Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas was released by Hyperion/Helios in 2002.

Another Kinderman CD on the Hyperion label is Beethoven’s “Diabelli” variations, about which The Sunday Times wrote: “A formidable pianist…. Kinderman’s exemplary clarity allows us to hear every detail of the amazing score and to marvel afresh at its beauty and sheer ingenuity.”

Kinderman received his doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley. He also studied philosophy at the University of Vienna, piano and music theory at the Hochschule für Music in Vienna, and music history at Yale University.

The Kinderman events are part of the department of Germanic languages and literatures’ monthly series called “Die Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft,” or the “Fruit-bearing Society,” the name of the first German-language academy founded in 1617, said Mara Wade, the head of the department.

According to Wade, the department has “a long history of teaching and scholarship on Thomas Mann, which is now culminating in its commemoration of the anniversary of this leading public intellectual,” she said.