Monday, April 16, 2007
THE KREUTZER SONATA (BEETHOVEN, TOLSTOY)
A recent program note from a concert at Carnegie Hall that included Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata, claimed that "... this music, of an intensity rare even for Beethoven, formed the basis for Tolstoy's novella about a passionate, adulterous love affair between a violinist and a pianist."
Seemed like it would enrich my appreciation of the music! ... so I decided to read the story.
I discovered the program note is completely wrong about the subject of the Tolstoy novella, "The Kreutzer Sonata". In fact, Tolstoy's story is about a hateful, jealous, narrow-minded, delusional, paranoid man who suspects -- imagines -- his wife (an amateur pianist) is having an affair with a (semi-professional) violinist who has played a few times with her, and performed (at the husband's request) a private concert where they played the Kreutzer Sonata, among other pieces. There was no affair. There was no passionate love.
Rather than casting a glow of love, this story spins a web of hate. It should definitely not be read to illuminate and enhance the music.
It may be read, however, to provide insight into murderous pathology. It is a fierce and uncompromising story.