Beethoven in the Himalaya

by Sara Bitlloch

This summer I spent some time trekking in Ladakh, in the Indian Himalaya. While staying at a guest-house in Leh, the “capital” (which is really nothing more than a big village in the middle of the mountains) I met an English man living in Cambodia, who had just been trekking with a friend. During the few days we were there together we got talking, and he turned out to be quite a classical music lover, so I found myself telling him a bit about the quartet and our Beethoven journey.

I asked him whether he knew Beethoven’s music well. He said he loved the symphonies but didn’t really know the string quartets, so I suggested if he wanted to get to know them, he should start by listening to op.132 when he got home. To which he replied “ Actually, I think I have all the Beethoven quartets on my Ipod, and I always travel with some mini-speakers to listen to music on treks. How about a pre-dinner Beethoven concert on the terrace?!”

The version he had on his Ipod was in fact the Fitzwilliam Quartet, led by Christopher Rowland, who was the first mentor of our quartet… And so, we ended up listening to op.132 on a terrace surrounded by mountains in the middle of Ladakh. Who would have thought!

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