Tucson Symphony Orchestra Recommends Beethoven’s Hair As A Good Summer Read

by Tucson Symphony

Maestro José Luis Gomez to Lead Discussion Groups at Area Libraries This Fall

(Tucson, AZ)─The Tucson Symphony Orchestra continues to reach out beyond the concert hall to all Tucsonans with a free series of discussion groups led by Music Director José Luis Gomez at three local libraries in the fall. When he announced the TSO’s 2019-20 season would celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, Maestro Gomez suggested that patrons prepare for it by reading the book, Beethoven’s Hair. Now, everyone is invited to join him at discussion groups at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library in Tucson Saturday, September 7; the Joyner-Green Valley Library on Sunday, September 8; and the Oro Valley Library on Tuesday, September 10. The discussions are just one way the TSO will observe the anniversary of Beethoven’s birth next season, which will include performances of his first eight symphonies.

“Eight Beethoven symphonies in one season is a milestone for the TSO because of the challenges of the repertoire,” commented Maestro Gomez. “Beethoven is a musical god, a presence that is so strong for everyone. He has influenced everybody-artists, conductors, orchestra, historians and writers. This will be a good way for us all to discover things about this great musician that perhaps we didn’t know.”

“Community partnerships like this series of events with the Pima County Public Library create new possibilities to engage, educate and inspire. Tucson Symphony Orchestra exists to transform lives through music, and we bring the community together to make an impact both on and off the stage.” said Kathryn R. Martin, TSO Interim President and CEO.

Holly Schaffer, Community Relations Manager for the library, added: “Community partnerships are a cornerstone of the Library’s values. Through collaborations like this with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, we are helping introduce people to new ideas, discover passion, and connect with others. We’re excited to be working with TSO on this special event series that explores the intersection of writing and music.”

The basis for the movie of the same name, Russell Martin’s Beethoven’s Hair is an astonishing tale of one lock of hair and its amazing travels–from nineteenth-century Vienna to twenty-first-century America.

When Ludwig van Beethoven lay dying in 1827, a young musician named Ferdinand Hiller came to pay his respects to the great composer, snipping a lock of Beethoven’s hair as a keepsake–as was custom at the time–in the process. For a century, the lock of hair was a treasured Hiller family relic, until it somehow found its way to the town of Gilleleje, in Nazi-occupied Denmark. There, it was given to a local doctor, Kay Fremming, who was deeply involved in the effort to help save hundreds of hunted and frightened Jews.

After Fremming’s death, his daughter assumed ownership of the lock, and eventually consigned it for sale at Sotheby’s, where two American Beethoven enthusiasts purchased it in 1994. Subsequently, they and others instituted a series of complex forensic tests in the hope of finding the probable causes of the composer’s chronically bad health, his deafness and final demise. The results, revealed for the first time in the book, are the most compelling explanation yet offered for why one of the foremost musicians the world has ever known was forced to spend much of his life in silence.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer called Beethoven’s Hair, “A wonderful contemplation of how relics can become bridges between people separated by time, culture and death . . . an inspiring look at passion in several forms,” while the Denver Post hailed it as, “A terrific story—odd, suspenseful, controversial and ultimately revealing.”

Author Russell Martin has written five works of nonfiction, including the highly acclaimed Out of Silence, and a novel.

Keep checking TSO’s social media for updates on these special events.

About Tucson Symphony Orchestra: At 91 years old, the TSO is the longest continuously performing professional arts organization in Arizona, and was the first professional symphony orchestra in the Southwest. With a diverse season of  classics, pops and award-winning music education programs, TSO impacts more than 120,000 lives each year, infuses millions into the economy of Southern Arizona annually, and attracts over 75 professional musicians from across the country to live, perform and teach in Tucson and throughout the state.

About Pima County Public Library: For more than 100 years, we’ve been here for people just like you. Today, in our libraries, online, or out in the community, our dedicated staff and volunteers are always looking ahead to help you find what you’re looking for. Every day, we’re making our mission a reality by educating and connecting people and inspiring ideas.

Contact: Terry Marshall, Public Relations Manager, 520.620.9158