Pianist embarks on marathon music challenge

Acclaimed concert pianist Julian Jacobson will be playing all 32 of Beethoven's piano sonatas from memory in an all-day music marathon charity event.


7 Oct 2013 | UK

The challenge will take place at St-Martin-in-the-Fields in London on 15 October – ten years after the 65-year-old pianist successfully pulled off the challenge for the first time.

All the money raised will be divided between WaterAid and The Connection charity at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

The sonatas, which are commonly referred to as the New Testament of music and include the well-loved Moonlight Sonata, are usually performed over eight concerts. Julian will attempt to complete the collection in one 13-hour performance.

Julian said: "I've followed WaterAid for a long time and am proud to be supporting the charity's life-saving work again through my music marathon. Life breaks down the moment there isn't any water; it is key to life. Having clean water and somewhere safe to go to the toilet not only improves health, but also impacts on people's ability to get an education and work.

"The marathon is a huge challenge. I've been practising the sonatas all the hours I can. I'm struggling with one or two of the pieces at the moment but I know they're all in there somewhere. I've done it before and I'll do it again!"

Help Julian raise £20,000

Julian was only the second pianist ever to successfully attempt all 32 sonatas in a single sitting, with his 2003 marathon, raising more than £6000 for WaterAid. This time round he hopes to raise £20,000.

WaterAid's Emma Blake said: "It's great to see Julian attempt this marathon for a second time to raise money for WaterAid. We wish him the best of luck with this challenge and thank him for his ongoing support for our work.

"It can cost as little as £15 to ensure one person can have access to safe water, sanitation and improved hygiene and so every penny raised can really help make a difference to some of the world's poorest communities."

Julian Jacobson standing in front of a piano after his performanceThe event takes place at St Martin in the Fields in London on Tuesday 15 October and will be free during the day, with donations invited from the public. You can also donate online here.

Update: He did it!

Congratulations Julian, you're a star.

We'll provide a full update next week but, for now, we'd like to say a big thank you from everyone at WaterAid!

Here's a short thank-you film >