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Kreutzer Sonata

ASPECT Foundation presents ‘Tolstoy and Music: Kreutzer Sonata’, 6th February 2014

Renowned violinist Dmitry Sitkovetsky and acclaimed pianist and former BBC Radio 3 presenter Iain Burnside will perform with the lauded Czech string ensemble The Zemlinsky Quartet in another wonderful ‘Music in Context’ concert presented by the ASPECT Foundation for Music and Arts.

The evening will explore Tolstoy’s inspiration for his controversial novel, which was inspired by the Beethoven sonata of the same name. The original Kreutzer Sonata by Beethoven was dedicated to the French violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer, who never performed it; Tolstoy’s novel, in turn, inspired Czech composer Leos Janacek to write his eponymous, intense and feverish first string quartet.

Kreutzer Sonata

Tolstoy had a particular passion for folk music, with the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s first quartet – based on a folk song from Tolstoy’s childhood – bringing tears to his eyes. However, he was highly selective about the works of Western composers; while Tolstoy admired Beethoven and was captivated by his music, he was also of the view that the composer had brought about the decline of musical art.

In The Kreutzer Sonata, Tolstoy expresses his complex and controversial views on marriage and sexuality, focusing on the conflict between the main character, Pozdnyshev, and his unnamed wife, who plays Beethoven’s sonata with a spirited violinist.  While she becomes impassioned by the music, Pozdnyshev, believing himself deceived, is overcome by a jealous rage and murders his wife.

The musical narrative of Janacek’s String Quartet No. 1 ‘Kreutzer Sonata’, seems to mirror the unfolding marital tragedy of Tolstoy’s novel, while the third movement of the quartet is modelled on the second theme of Beethoven’s ‘Kreutzer Sonata.’

As well as performing the work, Mr Burnside will also be giving an illustrated talk about the music.

Join the ASPECT Foundation for a fantastic evening as they explore the unique connections between music and literature, and witness music become, in Tolstoy’s words, ‘…a shorthand of feelings.’

Tickets cost £25, which includes wine and refreshments. Tickets can be bought online at or by calling the box office on 07799 090 826.

The ASPECT Foundation for Music and Arts was established to introduce and promote and novel concert format, ‘Music in Context’, aiming to fuse together separate art forms. ASPECT promotes and supports artists, as well as aiming to inspire the audience through a collaboration between musicians and speakers. They seek to present not just a recital, but an inspiring synthesis of music, art history and social culture – as they say, “it’s more that a concert”. More on ASPECT can be found on their website or on their Facebook page at

‘Tolstoy and Music: Kreutzer Sonata’ presented by ASPECT Foundation for Music and Arts
7.30pm (doors open 7pm), Thursday 6th February 2014
20th Century Theatre, 291 Westbourne Grove, W11 2QA

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