Dynamic duo plays challenging sonata at Butler Institute

By Jessica Stamp

At 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27, The Butler Institute of American Art hosted a faculty chamber music recital where Dana School of Music professors Caroline Oltmanns and Wendy Case performed.

Oltmanns, a pianist, pounded the keys of the piano while Case, a violinist, bowed the violin to Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata. 

“It is pretty hard to play … [but] it’s super fun. Great, great music,” Oltmanns said.

Since Oltmanns and Case are part of the same department, deciding to team up and perform together was a natural occurrence.

“[We] performed about 20 times during the pandemic,” Case said.

Oltmanns and Case hope their performance will inspire students to play — and simply have fun with — Beethoven’s music.

“Hopefully, it can inspire them to play music and just have lots of joy,” Case said. “Beethoven is a very joyful, kind of a humorous composer. He has lots of quirks.”

Case talked about the background of Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata and how it got its name. 

Beethoven originally wrote the piece for George Bridgetower, an African violinist, but after having a quarrel over drinks, the two had a falling out and Beethoven rededicated the sonata to Rudolph Kreutzer, a well-known French violin teacher in Paris during that time period. But Kreutzer thought the sonata was too difficult to play so he never played the piece. 

Oltmanns said by performing something different she hopes to inspire students.

 “The energy of the music — classical music — can be extremely invigorating,” Oltmanns said.  

Having the best motivation can help when it comes to performing and being onstage.

For Oltmanns, her motivation for performing in front of an audience is Emanuel Ax, a Grammy-winning classical pianist.

“I’ll just quote Emauel Ax who said, ‘The best motivator for practice is fear,’ so you get up in the morning and think ‘I better get to the piano.’ It works for me everytime,” Oltmanns said.

The Butler offers free music at noon on Wednesdays for a lunchtime concert until Dec. 1