She first discovered her love for classical music during her teenage years with a visit to her aunt’s home in Warsaw.
“My aunt’s house was always full of these amazing old relics; impressionist paintings, Monet prints and importantly a beautiful old piano which she would play for me,” Anna recalls, “As a teenager it was my first encounter with some of the greats like Chopin and Beethoven, but it was pivotal in transforming my understanding of music at that time in my life”.
Anna’s aunt was an avid music and history fanatic who inspired and helped to develop Anna’s love for Beethoven when she stayed with her in Warsaw in her late teens. They would attend summertime concerts under the statue of Chopin in the local Łazienki Park together. Despite her mathematically programmed mind there was something about the culture and history of the city of Warsaw which drew her in, and she ended up developing a lifelong love for classical music, particularly Beethoven.
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist born in 1770 whose work spans the transition from the classical period to romantic era in classical music. Beethoven remains one of the most admired composers in the history of western music whose works are still played widely today.
Anna’s favourite piece is Pathetique 3rd movement from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8, created by Beethoven as part of gift for his patron and admirer Prince Lichnovsky. She describes it as a dramatic and melodic movement that speaks of young joy and vitality and even instability with its rapid movement across the keys.
But her musical tastes were only always classically inclined, following her move to London in her 20s, Anna developed an interest in all types of music – most readily rock and roll. Metallica was a strong favourite and their dulcet tones accompanied her (along with heavy eyeliner and silver chains) to the Electric Ballroom in Camden within which she spent many an evening, dancing well into the night.
Anna enjoys his energetic, dark and tension building approach in his work with a style that is a mixture of traditional classical methods and new romantic techniques inspired over his lifetime by both Haydn and Mozart. He composed over 30 piano sonatas over his lifetime, which is part of the reason Anna favours him as a composer. Finding the violin too sad, her favourite instrument is the piano, which she encouraged her son to play and is her eventual dream to learn.
And music has a connection to Anna’s work. She firmly believes in a connection between analytical minds, mathematics, and classical music.
She explains, “The time signatures, beats per minute, and structured progressions in classical compositions engage the mathematical side of my brain, and listening to it helps me focus when working.”
She’s not alone, many argue that Beethoven’s musical creativity was interlinked with his use of mathematics in his music. Compositions involving the so called “golden ratio” or Fibonacci sequence, ultimately helped him to continue composing in his later years despite his deafness.
“Beethoven’s music for me,” Anna muses, “strikingly bridges the immeasurable world of emotions and creativity with the precision and logic that I love in mathematics.”
In her demanding role at work, Anna relies on classical music to create a calming and focused atmosphere particularly when working from home. She cherishes moments when her son plays the piano for her or playing classical music when she hosts friends.
“For me Beethoven’s pieces transport me away from the hustle and bustle of the city into a place of calm. I can sit for a moment away from the usual overload of information and technology which floods the modern world.”
“I also love the ability classical music has to transcend certain barriers and boundaries in life. Beethoven’s pieces are enjoyed by such a range of people, connecting people across centuries, boarders and generations. It gives me a real sense of fundamental connection to other people, especially at a live concert.”
Her love for Beethoven and piano she has been able to pass on to her son who now has a life lasting passion for the instrument. Using both her love for Beethoven and inspiration from her son’s musical career, Anna is bound on an exciting new journey to learn to play the piano herself.