Commissioned by Schauspiel Leipzig
Die Bridgetower Sonate
// Winner of Berliner Theatertreffen’s Stückemarkts
A long-cherished dream comes true for George. And it’s not to play in a sold out concert hall. Or to have an audience who listen to him enthralled and celebrate him after the concert. Because he already achieved these goals long ago through hard work. No, what is exceptional about this night is his concert partner. It is no one less than Ludwig van Beethoven. This in itself is a great accomplishment. But there is more: Beethoven wrote the violin part of the sonata that they perform together specifically for him. For George Bridgetower. Their joint concert turns out to be more than exciting for both of them. They have found a worthy companion in each other. The air vibrates. They both contend with the notes, with their musical counterpart, almost to the point of ecstasy. When the violin launches into a brief improvisation, Beethoven jumps up from his stool in delight, embraces George Bridgetower and demands an encore: “Again, my dear Brusch!”
Two virtuosos playing together. A concert that becomes the talk of the town. An unforgettable sensual spectacle. A piece of musical history. A piece of music penned by one maestro and dedicated to the other. A real event that has all but faded into obscurity.
This meeting by two luminaries of their respective lines took place in 1803 Vienna, and only very little information has been handed down. Today, the sonata which is musical testimony of the co-operation goes by the name of “Kreutzer Sonata”, dedicated to violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer, who never played it. The audience of the premiere concert is not around to bear witness. Other evidence for the work that the extraordinary Afro-European violinist George Bridgetower accomplished by Beethoven’s side is scarce. A quarrel between the two men resulted in the rededication of the piece. Why the two friends fell out with each other is unknown. What remains is a title that does more than refuse recognition to one of them: It deletes him from the story and thus from history. “Die Bridgetower-Sonate” changes our perspective of our musical heritage. It is a gesture towards the musician whose contribution remains hidden from us today. In the face of his biography, we have to ask ourselves how many others were refused their due appreciation and whose pen writes our history.
Amanda Wilkin is a playwright, actor, and jazz and blues songwriter from London. Her play “And I dreamt I was drowning” was selected for Berliner Festspiele’s Stückemarkt from among more than 350 submitted plays. She won an award which entailed a commission of work at Schauspiel Leipzig. This will be her debut at Diskothek.
Adewale Teodros Adebisi has been a lecturer at the Folkwang University of the Arts since 2008 and at the film degree course at FH Dortmund since 2015. He has created productions for theatres including Theater Neuss, Theater Heilbronn, Schauspielhaus Bochum and Nationaltheater Weimar. “Die Bridgetower-Sonate” is his first work at Schauspiel Leipzig.