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Nº 24, Op. 78 – à Thérèse

Coursera just launched a new set of lectures, part 3, for the course “Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas” by Jonathan Biss.

Below some notes and references for Sonata Op. 78 (also discussed in the first series Serenity and Slapstick: Op. 78).

78

Sonata 24, Op. 78, nicknamed “à Thérèse”, was composed by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1809. In these years, his deafness was an increasing problem, and it was his first sonata after Op. 57 (Appassionata) published five years earlier. Beethoven wrote his 32 sonatas in a period of less than 30 years, meaning that on average, he was writing more than one sonata a year. Therefore, a gap of five years between sonatas is most unusual.

It is his most lyrical sonata, according to Schiff, a declaration of love.

Thérèse was one of Beethoven’s students, and some scholars and writers have speculated that she—not her sister Josephine—may have been the “Unsterbliche Geliebte”.

For a full list of the possible candidates (with a particularly impressive list of sources), see https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsterbliche_Geliebte and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immortal_Beloved

Analysis

The only sonata in F-sharp major and related to Opus 77 (Fantasia).

The F# major key signature has 6 sharps in it and played on the piano, five of the seven scale notes are on black keys.

78-mov1

Before there were MOOCs, András Schiff did a series of lecture-recitals of the Beethoven Piano Sonatas at Wigmore Hall (2004-6).

Andras Schiff: The Lectures Beethoven Sonatas Wigmore Hall from 2004–6

For a visual impression, all sonatas of Beethoven are available on YouTube in color-coded analysis using Adobe Audition.

78-1

78-2

Detailed analysis in the description.

See also

Performances

Artur Schnabel – 1935

Annie Fischer – 1977

Richard Goode – 1993
http://www.richardgoodepiano.com/

Daniel Barenboim, Berlin State Opera House, 2007
Barenboim on Beethoven Masterclass DVD
http://danielbarenboim.com/

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