Ludwig van Beethoven was born almost 250 years ago yet he remains one of the most loved composers in the world today.
And to celebrate the upcoming anniversary of Beethoven's birth, New Zealand's foremost concert pianist Michael Houstoun will play some of his best-loved works at the Royal Wanganui Opera House next week.
Ingrid Culliford, of Chamber Music Wanganui, said the performance is the final concert of the society's 2020 subscription series and will be one of Houstoun's final recitals.
"This was originally intended to be a farewell recital by Michael as he planned to retire.
"However, the pandemic and subsequent rescheduling of his concerts into 2021 have changed the slant."
Houstoun has twice performed and also recorded the complete cycle of Beethoven's 32 sonatas. He has described the compositions of Beethoven and Bach as his "two touchstones".
Houstoun will present Bach's Partita No. 4 in D and Busoni's transcription of the Bach Chaconne for solo violin during the first part of his Whanganui recital. The second part of his concert is devoted to Beethoven.
"He will play the adagio from the Hammerklavier and the majestic Waldstein sonata," Culliford said.
"Michael is one of our most celebrated soloists and chamber musicians and it is wonderful that he is able to perform in Whanganui after so many cancellations this year."
Houstoun, 68, is a Laureate of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand and was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services as a pianist in the 2012 Queen's Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours in New Zealand
Born in Timaru, he began playing the piano at age 5 and went on to study under Sister Mary Eulalie in Dunedin and in his mid-teens began to study with Maurice Till in Christchurch. While still in his teens, Houstoun won every New Zealand piano competition before making his name in international contests.
He spent six years studying at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and London before returning to New Zealand where he has enjoyed a long and satisfying career.
He announced his retirement via his online journal early this year.
"After almost 50 years as a professional musician, I have decided to retire, hang up my fingers, call it quits and begin a new phase of my fortunate life. Although I do not have an exact date yet - I'm working on it - my last performance for the paying public will be towards the end of 2020."
Houstoun has committed to performing his rescheduled concerts, which will take him well into 2021 but next week's recital may be the last chance for a Whanganui audience to hear him play live.
Houstoun's award-winning albums recorded with Rattle Records will still be available for his fans.
Michael Houston - - Celebrating Beethoven's 250th: Sunday, October 18, 3pm. Adult $35, Senior $32, Chamber Music Wanganui member $20, student $5. Book online or at Royal Wanganui Opera House, Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm, 69 St Hill St. Ph 06 349 0511.