By Parth Upadhyaya
From the time they were five years old both, Nicholas DiEugenio and Mimi Solomon have been enamoured with composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Now, the husband and wife are paying homage to their idol. Violinist and professor, DiEugenio, and pianist and lecturer, Solomon, are collaborating for their second album together, “Unraveling Beethoven: Beyond the Canon,” which releases on Oct. 27.
Struck with inspiration in 2015, DiEugenio and Solomon had the idea to put together a project that would incorporate their performance of Beethoven’s 10 sonatas for violin and piano in combination with new compositions. They decided to pair each of the 10 sonatas together, and then asked five different composers to write pieces to go in between each pair.
The five composers — Tonia Ko, David Kirkland Garner, Robert Honstein, Jesse Jones and UNC Department of Music chair Allen Anderson — all completed their original works at different times. DiEugenio and Solomon received the first piece in early 2016 and the last in the fall of 2017.
“During that process, we started mixing and matching Beethoven sonatas with some of these new pieces,” DiEugenio said. “In the process of that, we started discovering that audience members were really responding to different and interesting pairings of not just the Beethoven sonatas with the new pieces, but the new pieces side-by-side themselves.”
After they realized the complimentary pieces could stand alone, the duo decided that their album would consist of only of the five new compositions.
“There’s a lot of variety on the album, even though it’s all inspired by Beethoven,” DiEugenio said. “So we started thinking, ‘Oh, actually this could work really well as an album, because this music fits together pretty well.’”
The world premiere for the album will come days before its release, when DiEugenio and Solomon will perform an album release concert at Moeser Auditorium in Hill Hall on Oct. 25 at 7:30 pm.
On the project’s release date, the couple will perform in The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York. It is a homecoming for Solomon, who grew up in the New York area and for DiEugenio, who used to live in the city. Both are excited to see friends, family and former colleagues again.
“This is a project we’ve been working on a really long time,” Solomon said. “It’s obviously a really personal project … to finally bring it all together, and have all those people together in New York, that means a lot to us.”
Inspired by Beethoven themselves, DiEugenio and Solomon look to inspire the next generation of musicians using his music.
“It’s sort of a mission, for me, to refresh some current listeners of classical music and remind them that Beethoven — his music and Beethoven, as a life — were not just nice and comfortable and upper class and bourgeoises,” DiEugenio said. “But that there was a lot of struggle, and there was a lot fight, and there was a lot of inner drive.”