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Festival explores life, music of Beethoven

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After beginning research into Classical/Romantic composer Ludwig van Beethoven's letters " and those written about him " six months ago, Katie Davis came to a startling realization.

"I feel like I know him," she said.

The assistant professor and director of drama at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma adapted performances from those bits of correspondence into a three-part "concert drama" featuring senior USAO students.

The theatrical peeks into the composer, famous for his symphonies and piano works, continue 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday during lecture-concerts at USAO in Chickasha, part of the weeklong Beethoven Festival.

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"What people know about Beethoven was that he was moody or unrefined or a musical genius," she said. They don't know that he had "truly a lifelong struggle with illness, how deeply he wanted to love people "¦ how generous he was both to friends or strangers."

On Friday, USAO digs into Beethoven's struggles: deafness, which set on in his 20s, and perhaps mental illness.

"Probably today he would have been called bipolar," Davis said.

Music will be the focus during Saturday's 7:30 p.m. finale, featuring a community choir performance of "Ode to Joy," a fitting culmination to the week, according to Rhenada Finch, festival coordinator.

"Music has always been a vehicle to bring people together, and we see the whole series as a way to do that," she said. "('Ode to Joy') has a special place in music history."

For more information, visit their site. "Emily Jerman

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