Piano-violin duo playing 10 Beethoven sonatas


Bulgarian violinist Bella Hristova has joined forces with acclaimed New Zealand pianist Michael Houstoun for an eight-centre tour highlighting the works of Beethoven.

Hristova and Houstoun will present Beethoven’s piano and violin sonatas in concert at Dunedin’s Glenroy Auditorium on Tuesday, September 5, at 7.30pm. There will be a pre-concert talk at 6.45pm.

Chamber Music New Zealand chief executive Peter Walls said the tour would be a “musical highlight” of the year, showcasing a series of beautiful works.

“It is a treat to be able to follow Beethoven’s development of a lovingly expressive relationship between violin and piano across 10 sonatas, written at the height of his powers,” Walls said.

The concert tour is also a reunion for the two musicians, who were paired for a nationwide tour after Hristova won the Michael Hill International Violin Competition in 2008.

Hristova said that tour was a crucial part of her musical development, as it was rare to be able to perform a programme so many times in a row as a young musician.

The tour also cemented a friendship with Houstoun, and Hristova is excited to be partnering with him again in the Beethoven sonatas.

“From the first rehearsal with Michael I knew that a very special musical relationship was forming and that feeling only grew,” she said.

Both players felt a deep emotional connection to Beethoven’s music, Hristova said.

Houstoun said Hristova was “a magnificent violinist – there’s nothing she can’t do”.

Houstoun, who performed Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas in 2013, said the 10 Beethoven violin sonatas were all masterpieces, but “some have become more famous than others”.

“One of the joys in playing them all is presenting the lesser-known sonatas to the public and the richness of these masterpieces works both ways – the more we give out the more we get back.”

The Dunedin concert programme will feature Beethoven’s famous Spring Sonata, along with his sixth piano and violin sonata (in A Major, op. 30, no. 1) and his 10th and final sonata (in G Major, op. 96).

For Hristova, the 10th sonata is a favourite.


The Star has a double pass to give away to the Beethoven concert by Bella Hristova and Michael Houstoun on September 5.

To enter the draw, answer the following question:

When did the two musicians first tour together?

Write your answer, along with your name and daytime phone number and post to:

Beethoven Competition, The Star, PO Box 517, Dunedin.

Or send your answer and contact details by email to: competitions@thestar with the words “Beethoven Competition” in the subject line.

Entries close at noon on Monday, September 4