The late Kobe Bryant learned to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata

The late Kobe Bryant learned to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata


norman lebrecht

January 27, 2020

We have been sent a 2014 video of the basketball star, tragically killed with his daughter yesterday in a helicopter crash, playing piano in an arrangement of the Moonlight Sonata, which he apparently loved.

The producers say: We had a very narrow window of time to shoot this promotional piece with Kobe. He arrived in the conference room at the Graves 106 Hotel in MN at 6:45pm and 20 minutes later he was gone.

Kobe told reporters that he took piano lessons in order to play the Moonlight for his wife, Vanessa, whose favourite piece it was.

Eternal rest.


  • Jeremy Smith says:

    Thank you for mentioning this. After his basketball career, he began heavily pursuing the creative arts and won an Academy Award for the best short animated film for his piece “Dear Basketball.” The music for the film was composed by John Williams.

    • We privatize your value says:

      Credit where credit is due, the director and animator of that film was Glen Keane (born 1954).

  • Ronna Ayscue says:

    Beautiful! A different side to this tragic figure.

  • M.Arnold says:

    and I’ve heard that Beethoven had a great jump shot.

  • drummerman says:

    Here’s information about the Bryant/Keane/Beethoven connection.

    • TubaMinimum says:

      That article doesn’t go into in depth, but elsewhere (in his Showtime special), Bryant talks about the struggle he went through late in his career after a number of bad injuries, where he was fighting his body’s limitations to put it together for one last run at a title and one last bit of greatness. He said he thought a lot about Beethoven, who he said probably wasn’t supposed to write a ninth symphony while legally deaf, but he did it anyway. And Bryant found that comforting in a “if he can push himself to battle his body and do that, I can overcome my body to do this” kind of way. Kobe actually put out a basketball shoe in his line that was inspired by Beethoven’s Ninth.

  • Gustavo says:

    He will always be remembered!

    [Music by John Williams]

  • Karl says:

    Very sad news about Kobe. Thanks for posting this. I never knew. I remember David Robinson played piano and made a hilarious commercial with Rudolf Firkušný in 1990.

  • jon says:

    In the article you link, he actually tells reporters that he learned it by ear – he didn’t take lessons.

  • Vivien S. Victor says:

    Will miss that beautiful smile and his sensitive soul. One of the greatest and he’s second to none. He was classy, caring and giving. Lebron James may have passed him in scoring but make no mistake he cannot surpass Kobe in his humanity and sensitivity. Lebron is crass, crude and insensitive.

    • V.Lind says:

      Ummm…hardly perfect. A great player, a very good father and, latterly, probably a very good husband. But there has been a little bit of a tendency to whitewash him in the wake of his and his daughter’s tragic deaths.

      I’m all for looking at the whole man, and over all I would give him high marks. But let’s not pretend that this was a saint. A huge settlement, a near-admission and a four million dollar diamond apology ring say otherwise.

      I don’t know much about LeBron James, but he has yet to be charged with a crime as far as I know.

    • Marshall says:

      What is this anti-LeBron-how do you know/ You don’t know what you’re talking about. He actually is quite impressive for someone who never finished high school, articulate and speaks out on issues, started foundations and organizations to help kids is a clever businessman. What’s your problem? Some crazy Kobe fan?

      Kobe (aside from the rape charge) was an interesting guy-fluent in Italian, intelligent, many other interesting qualities.

  • Bruce T says:

    a wonderful tribute to a great star.
    His Star will shine foreverin our hearts

  • Jim Spivack says:

    This has made his death that much more tragic. I heard he was pretty arrogant during his career – but there was another side and we can all learn from it. He went beyond just being terribly rich and was experimenting with life. Obviously he listened to classical music and identified with Beethoven – It is very very tragic that this happened in the first place- but he was both curious and highly intelligent and he skipped high school. Kobe could have been a role model in many ways other than b-ball.

  • Judy Bergmann says:

    What a talented man. There should be more men like him