On 10 March, 2020 superstar pianist Igor Levit turned 33. That night he gave a concert at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonic, playing Beethoven’s Third and Fifth Piano Concertos.
The next day he was scheduled to perform in Cologne but with the global pandemic spreading fast, the concert was cancelled. Initially Levit, like umpteen others globally, thought that the COVID disruptions wouldn’t last too long, but as days turned into weeks, his spirits gradually slumped. Unable to perform to audiences, he felt joyless and purposeless. In May, on the spur of the moment, he tweeted that he would be livestreaming a “hauskonzert” or house concert from his Berlin home that evening.
Igor Levit. Photograph © Felix Broede/Sony Classical
Immediately, social media erupted with people around the world saying they would be tuning in. Realising he had no idea how to livestream a concert, he hastily spoke to a few friends, rushed out and bought a cheap camera stand, and that night played Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata.
For the next 51 nights, he livestreamed a concert, playing whatever took his fancy from Beethoven and Bach to Billy Joel, Nina...