Oklahoma Pianist Performs Classical Feat

by Emma Terry

For the first time in six decades Oklahomans are hearing a single performer present all of the sonatas of one of history’s greatest composers in a series of concerts.

You may be used to hearing one sonata in a concert, but Dr. Sergio Monteiro, a Steinway Artist, Professor of Music and Director of Piano at Oklahoma City University’s Wanda Bass School of Music, carefully arranged all 32 of Beethoven’s sonatas into a concert series form to bring Beethoven’s music alive again. His epic grand finale will feature eight sonatas coming up in February.

Monteiro was born in Brazil, but now lives in Oklahoma City with his wife, Dr. Lauren Monteiro, and newborn son, Andrew.  Monteiro said he had wanted to create a concert series honoring German composer Ludwig van Beethoven for some time. However, his plan got fully underway in 2020 on the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday.

“Sometimes you know the pieces…like, you have two or three in your fingers, and you can play them, but to have 32 sonatas in your head, 8 hours of music, ready to perform, is very hard,” Monteiro said. 

Memorizing that amount of music was a labor of love that has taken three years to come to fruition. Monteiro loves Beethoven because he was something like the snowball at the top of the hill. He was the first composer that brought the idea of the French Revolution to music, the idea of drama, different characters, and bringing more emotion to the music.

While some people may think classical music is an acquired taste, Montiero believes when it comes to Beethoven the problem isn’t the music.

“If you don’t like the music, the problem is with you.” 

The concerts will not, however, be a chronological performance through Beethoven’s sonata series. Monteiro chose the etude order depending on the mood and style. He said he didn’t go in numerical order, because he thought it would be more artistic and more interesting for the public to have a variety of styles in each concert. 

In each concert you see a kind of a micro-universe of Beethoven, because Beethoven’s music is divided into three distinct stylistic periods.

Monteiro said his affinity for Beethoven’s music began when he first played one of the composer’s pieces as a child. He feels like his lifelong dream has finally been achieved through these massive performances. That entry into the world of classical composers continued to feed his passion for music.

“Each composer is like a universe, everyone is different,” Montiero said.

For this series, he doesn’t have a favorite piece, but some are more challenging than others.

“The most difficult piece to learn was Hammerklavier, Op.106. This piece is an hour long, and it is Beethoven’s most technically difficult piano piece. This piece has a lot of emotions, so it’s quite mentally taxing,” Montiero said.

The grand finale of Monteiro’s Beethoven concert series will be held at Oklahoma City University’s Petree Recital Hall on February 6.  To learn more about the concert and how to get tickets, click here.

If you like his concert, and want to hear more, you can find him on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.

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