New Directions at the Apex of Creativity

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 the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society (PCMS). The project features 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.

  • Podcast and Blog Series

    To broaden the perspective, WWFM's David Osenberg is releasing six podcasts that examine the evolution of composers' voices in their final works and Leah Hood (of ThrowingLight.com) interviewed a wide spectrum of people in the arts and beyond to explore creative departures from other angles.

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  • Amazon Kindle

    Publishing date, February 2017

    Jonathan Biss builds upon his previous essays (“In Beethoven’s Shadow,” “A Pianist Under the Influence”) with a new publication for this project. His thoughts on the subject of late style—which have increasingly consumed his interest as an artist— will be published in February.

  • Public Panel Discussion

    Thursday, February 16, 2017

    Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center

    Prior to the first of the three concerts, WRTI’s Gregg Whiteside will lead an interdisciplinary panel discussion featuring musicologist Christoph Wolff, music critic Allan Kozinn, writer and thought-leader Lewis Lapham, and behavioral scientist Daniel Gottlieb. Their discussion will explore the effect that accumulated knowledge and experience has on artistry at the height of one’s creative powers.

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  • Concert #1

    Thursday, February 16, 2017

    Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center

    Bach: Art of the Fugue, BWV 1080 [Sel.] Kurtág: Játékok, Volume VII, for Piano [Sel.] Britten: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 94 Beethoven: Piano Sonata in C Minor, Op. 111

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  • Concert #2

    Monday, March 6, 2017

    Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center

    Schumann: Gesänge der Frühe, Op. 133 Gesualdo: Madrigals [Sel.] Brahms: Klavierstücke, Op. 118 Mozart: String Quintet in E-flat Major, K. 614

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  • Concert #3

    Monday, March 13, 2017

    Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center

    Schubert: Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 959 Schubert: Schwanengesang, D. 957

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Project Genesis

Jonathan Biss’ interest in the musical evolution of major composers at the end of their lives began with his discovery of Edward Said's book, "On Late Style," and was further nurtured over the last decade by his own study of composers' late works. The strong relationship between PCMS Artistic Director Miles Cohen and Mr. Biss provided the basis for a unique cross-medium collaboration in which to explore the noted pianist's guiding question: "What effect do years of accumulated knowledge and experience, combined with, perhaps, the realization that death is near, have on artistic creation?"

Miles Cohen - PCMS Artistic Director

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Jonathan Biss - Pianist

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Departure and Discovery has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

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