Departure & Discovery Project Overview

By Erik Petersons on December 2, 2016

Over the past five centuries, composers as early as in their 30s or as late as in their 80s have found new forms of expression in the final stages of life. Still more interesting, the changes are not consistent from composer to composer: some became more concise, others more expansive. Some composers became fixated on death, others revealed a child-like innocence. Some wrote their most adventurous music, while others turned back in pursuit of greater clarity and economy.

It is this sense of change—of new directions at the peak of creative and life maturity—that is the genesis for a special collaboration between noted pianist Jonathan Biss and PCMS. Mr. Biss’ interest in the musical evolution of major composers at the end of their lives developed into a project featuring three Perelman Theater concerts, a public panel discussion, a new Amazon Kindle Single, a podcast and blog series, and master classes for students. We invite you to join us this season as we reflect on late style and its impact as an altogether universal human experience.

To learn more and purchase tickets, visit

Departure and Discovery: New Directions at the Apex of Creativity is supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

“A late style would reflect a life of learning, the wisdom that comes from experience, the sadness that comes from wisdom and a mastery of craft that has nothing left to prove. It might recapitulate a life’s themes, reflect on questions answered and allude to others beyond understanding....Each constructs an alternate universe in which something is actually being understood about our world: some things are rejected, some are accepted, some are greeted with horror, some with resignation. Beethoven’s late music, for example, embraces incongruities because—we are convinced—that is precisely what it means to see the world whole.” —Edward Rothstein