Hellmann performs Chopin and Beethoven on January 30

Hellmann performs Chopin and Beethoven on January 30

Kesha Williams
January 18, 2011


On a cold, Thursday afternoon, Dr. Mary Hellmann, associate professor, in the ECSU Music Department, hovers over the piano playing quick demonstrations of music. She peers over the piano and urges students in the Music History class to follow along in their text books.

Today's lecture includes notes on the Late Baroque and Pre-classical period.  She challenges students to find the components of a sonata while listening to a Symphony by Sammartini.  She explains this European Baroque music remains well recognized due to composers such as Domenico Scarlatti, Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel. Their compositions influenced the music of pre-classical and classical composers such as Sammartini, Stamitz, Haydn and Mozart.  As scholars, she urges them to identify the components of these famous sonatas. After all, the sonata is one of the most important forms of music. The sonata has a definable structure-- themes in the composition that allow the listener to hear each segment and understand the various parts. Twice a week the class will meet and help the students move further beyond the role of passive listener.

On January 30, she will expect these students to join a local audience for an evening of music by Chopin and Beethoven. There, they will hear Hellmann perform great works of art that have satisfied classical music fans for 200 hundred years. It is music that requires more attention to detail that the music that dominates the airwaves. It is music that Hellmann says expresses a wide range of human emotion. By that date, her students will recognize the range of emotion in the music.

"All the pieces I'll play are monuments of music that classically trained musicians will recognize as standard repertoire.  Each tells a story, a simple idea or simple melody that is revealed in the beginning of each one and developed throughout," Hellmann said.

"Chopin changed the way people thought about music. He played pianos similar to the instruments we recognize today yet he greatly expanded the physical demands necessary to execute his works."

With Beethoven's music, he indicates in the score the depth of emotion by requiring the pianist to use extreme dynamics  to relay the emotional content of the work. The loudest fortes and quietest pianissimos are used throughout his famous Appaissionata Sonata."

Both of these composers are common to students and classical music fans because their pieces contain melodies that include repetition, an important element that allows people to recognize a theme and follow it through a work. Hellmann will provide a one-time performance that includes music she has played for years and some that represents her first live performance. The music will flow from the department's new, nine-foot, concert grand Steinway. Hellmann said she looks forward to performing the music on an incredibly beautiful instrument that allows a pianist to perform challenging compositions while producing the best quality sound.

"I'm looking forward to sharing this music with the community and with music students to show them how wonderful it is. They will recognize the style characteristics of music from the Classical and Romantic eras and realize why it has been around for over 200 years," Hellmann said.

Hellmann has taught in the ECSU Music Department since 2004. At ECSU, she teaches Applied Piano, Music History, Introduction to Music Literature and Class Piano.  As a private music teacher, her pupils have ranged from age four to 94.