Beethoven – Autograph score of Sonata Op.109, third movement. Used by permission of the Library of Congress, Washington DC.

Watch the recording of this event

The first annual Christmas Lecture in the Public Research Programme took place on Wednesday 16 December 2020.

Beethoven: 1770 – 1827. Art and music is not available at the click of a button. There’s no TV, radio, CDs, music streaming. Music can only be heard if you play an instrument or listen to someone else perform live. How would you absorb, savour and appreciate music in this historic aural landscape?
Dr Robert Taub and Professor James Daybell transported us back in time to explore the musical context and social surroundings of one of history’s greatest composers, Ludwig van Beethoven, in a special celebration of his 250th birthday.

They revealed how research into the musical sketches Beethoven produced and cherished throughout his life lead to a greater understanding of the creative evolution of his art. This research enables more communicative performances and, ultimately, more meaningful experiences of listening and understanding for us all.

Beethoven’s music was a driving force for human expression, breaking boundaries of artistic perceptions, enabling musical communication that remains vital today. His musical sketches were a critical component of how he developed all manner of musical ideas, at a time when the piano as we know it today was in a state of rapid technological development. 

Following an introduction by Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Professor Judith Petts CBE, Robert performed live musical excerpts from Beethoven’s startlingly original early period as well as the heroic middle and transcendent late periods, while he and James also brought to life the broader context of history and art in the period. 

Attendees submitted questions for a Q&A session at the end of the lecture with Robert and James.

All are welcome to join us for the Public Research Programme’s annual Christmas Lecture, to hear a fascinating – and surprising – talk from leading academics and their perspective of our world through a research lens.

This event is open to the public and free to attend. Once you have booked your place in advance you will receive a link to access this event online, please join the call via the link provided 5 minutes before the event begins.

Dr Robert Taub

Music Director, The Arts Institute

From New York’s Carnegie Hall to Hong Kong’s Cultural Centre, Dr Robert Taub is an internationally-acclaimed concert pianist and recording artist best known for his outstanding interpretation of Beethoven. With an impressive CV covering performance, concert programming and academia, he is an eloquent and engaging spokesman for music.  

His book – Playing the Beethoven Piano Sonatas – has become a standard for the Beethoven Sonata literature. As Music Director at The Arts Institute, he leads the Musica Viva programme of concerts and workshops and is developing Some Call It Home, a multi-media musical drama as part of Plymouth’s Mayflower 400 celebrations. 

Dr Robert Taub at Steinway piano. Image credit: John Allen
Dr Robert Taub at Steinway piano. Image credit: John Allen

Professor James Daybell

Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business

Professor James Daybell is a world-leading academic, author and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, with research interests including Early Modern British and European History; Gender and Women’s History; and English Renaissance literature. 

He is one half of the successful ‘Histories of the Unexpected’ podcast and live show, and has been presented with a number of international awards and fellowships. James has produced fourteen books and more than 50 articles and essays, with projects including books on the family and materials of memory; gender and archives; and early modern gloves!

Professor James Daybell on stage during the Histories of the Unexpected live show

More like this...

Beethoven: Innovator – a 250th celebration | 30 September – 2 October 2021
Our inspiring three-day festival was dedicated to some of Beethoven’s most innovative works, and was hosted by Dr Robert Taub, acclaimed pianist and Music Director, The Arts Institute. Our celebration of Beethoven's 250th birthday featured a series of concerts of piano sonatas and string quartets, fascinating informal lectures, and the world premiere of a new commission from leading international composer, Jonathan Dawe, that is based on Beethoven's sketches and performed by the Ruisi String Quartet.
Ludwig van Beethoven

Public Research Programme

The year-long programme of public events showcases our research across a spectrum of topics. It presents the Inaugural Professorial Lecture series which celebrates the achievements of our academics who have been awarded their professorship; providing a platform for which they can share insights into their esteemed research.
All are welcome to join us as our academics open the door to the intriguing world of research, inviting you to learn more about the fascinating work taking place across the University.
Roland Levinsky Building at night
'Narrenschiff', 2017, Kehinde Wiley Three-channel digital film Duration:16.40 minutes. 'Kehinde Wiley: Ship of Fools', The Levinsky Gallery, University of Plymouth | 29 September - 20 December 2020
'Narrenschiff', 2017, Kehinde Wiley. Three-channel digital film. Duration: 16:40 minutes. 'Kehinde Wiley: Ship of Fools', The Levinsky Gallery, University of Plymouth | 29 September–20 December 2020

The Arts Institute

The Arts Institute is the curated public arts programme of the University of Plymouth which plays a pivotal role in building culture and art in the city and South West region, supporting established, new and emerging artists from around the world.

It comprises The Levinsky Gallery, a space for engaging, contemporary artworks; the Jill Craigie Cinema which screens a diverse range of classic films and contemporary cinematic masterpieces; a cutting-edge theatre and dance programme in The House; musical performances and concerts, and a year-long series of fascinating talks that open up a world of art, literature and history.

Open to all – learn more about The Arts Institute