Uri Caine on Beethoven and improvisation

Uri Caine is a New York City-based composer, pianist and improviser famed for his ingenious weaving together of the classical and jazz traditions. 

Tomorrow, to round off our Beethoven 1 Day, he presents an evening of inspired jazz musings around Beethoven’s first symphony.

And here’s what he had to say:

‘Improvisers are used to taking pre-existing musical structures and finding ways to use these as a basis for improvisation. When I was asked to improvise around Beethoven's first symphony I was happy because this symphony has long been one of my favourite pieces.

'It exemplifies Beethoven's assured mastery of classical forms, his sense of dramatic surprise and punning humour and his sheer brio and youthful exuberance that makes this music swing. Using Beethoven's music as a springboard for improvisation is indeed a musical challenge that I am still developing.

‘My improvisations generally follow the forms of Beethoven's music so the various liberties, diversions, interruptions, and elaborations that I improvise are mostly based on the original structure.

'Transition sections, development sections in the sonata forms and endings are prime areas for improvisation as they themselves feel the most ‘improvisatory’ in the context of how Beethoven treats the sonata, menuet/trio and rondo forms in this piece.’

See Uri Caine's Beethoven 1: Improvised this Thursday at 7.30pm in the RNCM concert hall, as part of our Ludwig van season. 

21 November 2012