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Posts from the ‘Music’ Category

Nº 27, Op. 90

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. 27 from part 2 (link to Coursera).

90.jpg

Beethoven composed this sonata in 1814 and published in 1815, dedicated to Prince Moritz von Lichnowsky.

Op. 90 was written in 1814, during a particularly difficult period of Beethoven’s life, and certainly not one of his more prolific ones. the “Appassionata” was written nearly 10 years earlier, in 1804 and 1805. It is the sonata no. 23, and op. 90 is no. 27, which means that in the intervening decade, Beethoven wrote only three piano sonatas – a very paltry number by his standards, and anyway, two of those three are quite small.

So, the most immediately unusual thing about op. 90 is that it only has two movements.  Now, Haydn sometimes wrote piano sonatas in two movements, but he did so less and less often as he aged and as the genre itself began to take shape. And Mozart’s sonatas are invariably in three movements, so it’s not just that two-movement sonatas were unusual for Beethoven: they fall well outside the norms of the classical era. 

Op. 90, while not remotely of the same scope as op. 111, functions in a similar way: stress and anguish in the first movement are followed by the blissful calm of the second, and just as in op. 111, the presence of the former is what makes the latter so affecting.

 

Analysis

2 movements:

  1. Mit Lebhaftigkeit und durchaus mit Empfindung und Ausdruck (E minor)
  2. Nicht zu geschwind und sehr singbar vorgetragen (E major)

 

90-1-man90-1

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.

90-190-2

 

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/

Nº 21, Op. 53 – Waldstein

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. 21 from part 2 (link to Coursera).

sonate

Beethoven composed this sonata in 1803-04 and published in 1805 dedicated to Count Ferdinand Ernst Gabriel von Waldstein. Beethoven dedicated several works to the count but his name, for some reason, has stuck to this sonata.

Andante favori, WoO 57 was originally intended as the second movement.

(…) Beethoven’s best-known and most misunderstood works.

This sonata was written in 1804, in the same twelve-month span as the “Appassionata”.
The two sonatas have vastly different characters, and yet they share many things: their epic scale, their refusal to be hemmed in by classical conventions or proportions, and perhaps most of all, their ubiquity.

The Waldstein Sonata is a work of tremendous mystery, and ultimately spirituality as well. It is also a piece that hugely expands the piano’s range of sonic possibilities: it asks the instrument to shrink to a whisper and to expand into a cathedral, and it uses the pedal in revolutionary ways – this is probably Beethoven’s first piano work to ask the performer to defy the limitations of the instrument, which becomes such a central characteristic in his late period. And perhaps most importantly, the Waldstein truly rewrites the rules of classical harmony in ways that were to send Beethoven on a new path that he remained on for the rest of his life.

Analysis

3 movements:

  1. Allegro con brio (C major)
  2. Introduzione. Adagio molto (F major)
  3. Rondo. Allegretto moderato – Prestissimo (C major)

manussonate-1

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.

53-153-2

 

Detailed analysis in the description.

See also

Performances

Artur Schnabel – 1935

Claudio Arrau – 1977

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/

Nº 8, Op. 13 – Pathétique

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. 13 (link to Coursera).

13

Beethoven composed this sonata in 1798 and published in 1799 dedicated to Prince Karl von Lichnowsky.

Prince_Carl_Lichnowsky

(…) because really the Pathetique is a groundbreaking – and rule-breaking – work. It is worthy of its fame not only because of its sheer quality, and the strength of its character, but because it is an important and influential piece, one that expanded the possibilities of sonata form in clear-cut ways. 

Altogether, it’s one of the most wild, unpredictable documents of Beethoven’s early period. (…) it’s a turning point, the moment at which the lines between the introduction and
the sonata form proper begin to blur. When Beethoven played with the rules in the Pathetique, it was a psychological gambit, employed to rattle the listener through upsetting his or her expectations. But eventually he pushed that game so far, by the time the next generation of composers came along, those expectations didn’t really exist any more,  certainly not in the same way. As I’ve said before: Beethoven’s incredible ingenuity with sonata form ultimately destroyed it. With the first movement of the Pathetique, we see that process begin to unfold.

Analysis

3 movements:

  1. Grave – Allegro di molto e con brio (C minor)
  2. Adagio cantabile (A major)
  3. Rondo. Allegro (C minor)

 

13-1

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.

13-1

13-2

13-3

 

Detailed analysis in the description.

See also

Performances

Artur Schnabel – 1935

 

Claudio Arrau

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/

Nº 26, Op. 81a – Lebewohl

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. 81a (link to Coursera).

81a

Beethoven composed this sonata in 1809 and 1810.

Now, the greatest, or at least the most obvious, novelty about op. 81a is that it is a programmatic work: it is called Lebewohl–Les Adieux in French, Farewell in English –because its composition was motivated by the Archduke Rudolph – the patron who was most supportive of Beethoven and to whom he dedicated the most works –being forced by Napoleon’s attack to leave Vienna. 

(…) it is supposed to tell a story in sound. I’ve talked frequently about music as narrative, but the idea of a piece of instrumental music being a literal narrative – telling a specific story, as opposed to offering the listener the opportunity to imagine one, or to simply feel the implication of one based on the piece’s structure – that was an extremely novel idea in 1810.  

(…)  it is a public testament of Beethoven’s feelings for his patron, and his reaction to the patron’s absence. In this way, Beethoven has really opened the floodgates to the romantic era: in the cases of Schumann and Liszt, not some but most of their pieces are meant to be evocative of places, people, or situations.

While the Lebewhl is itself a sonata, and one that is in many ways structurally traditional,
its emphasis on tone painting helped pave the way for the romantic era’s move away
from the sonata, and towards character pieces. 

archduke

Analysis

3 movements:

  1. Das Lebewohl. Adagio – Allegro (E major)
  2. Abwesenheit. Andante espressivo (C minor)
  3. Das Wiedersehen. Vivacissimamente (E major)

 

81a-1

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.

81a-1

81a-2

81a-3

Detailed analysis in the description.

See also

Performances

Artur Schnabel – 1935

Claudio Arrau

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/

Nº 3, Op. 2 nº 3

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. 2 nº 3 from part 2.

Beethoven composed this sonata in 1795. It is dedicated to Joseph Haydn (1732–1809).

It is the biggest and longest sonata of the early period (4 movements, 26-28 minutes). Of the three Op. 3 sonatas, number 3 is by a wide margin the biggest and most ambitious of the set. Its intense, misterioso character and harmonic daring were so out of step with the music of the time, in fact, that Haydn, Beethoven’s mentor and booster, advised him not to publish it. (…) opus 7 is the sonata that got the word “grand” appended to it – and it is, indeed, longer than opus 2 number 3, but this is the work in which Beethoven imposes the heroism of the concerto form onto sonata structure, and in doing so, again expands the possibilities of what a sonata can be.

Analysis

2.3

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.

2.3-1

2.3-2

2.3-3

2.3-4

 

 

 

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/

Nº 5, Op. 10 nº 1

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. 10 nº 1 (link to Coursera).

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) composed this work in his late twenties, between 1795 and 1797. Published in 1798 and dedicated to Countess Anna Margarete von Browne.

Portrait of Beethoven as a young man (1801, 31 years)

Marketed as a trio with 3 movements (not 4) making it a little more accessible to the public.

trois-Sonates

It is a first-period composition, anticipating more notable C minor works such as the Pathétique Sonata and the Fifth Symphony (the short development section in the 3rd movement contains a foreshadow of the theme from the 5th).

In the Sonata No.5 there are several clear signs that Beethoven eagerly studied Mozart’s masterpiece: the ‘Mannheim rocket’ – a swiftly ascending triad motif in the first bars of the first movement’s main theme, the subsequent dialogue between imperious and supplicatory ‘characters’, a shift to the minor key of the second theme in the reprise, the influence of operatic bel canto in the slow movement, and the explosive nervous tension of the finale. [Text of the booklet “Ludwig van Beethoven. Complete Piano Sonatas, vol.5. IGOR TCHETUEV”]

Analysis

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.

10.1-I

10.1-II

10.1-III

Color-coded Analysis

Synthesia

Detailed analysis of the sonata in the description of the video on YouTube.

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/


Jonathan Biss – 2011
WQXR’s Beethoven Piano Sonata Marathon, The Greene Space on Nov. 20, 2011.


Vadim Chaimovich – 2014
http://www.vadim-chaimovich.com

Nº 25, Op. 79 – Sonatine

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. 79 (link to Coursera).

…op. 79 is less ambitious than any sonata Beethoven had written for many years.
 It’s very short, but that’s the least of it: there’s no effort to unify the movements,
 to tell a big story or create a big arc, leading towards the end of the piece or otherwise.
 It is, very unusually, more like a series of character pieces, in particular, the last two movements: they paint their picture, and by the time they have done so, they are pretty much over.

79.25.png

Analysis

79

79-1

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.

25-1

25-2

25-3

 

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/

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/

Nº 17, Op. 31 nº 2 – Tempest

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.31 no. 2.

This sonata was composed in 1801/02 by Ludwig van Beethoven, published in 1803.

(…) the “Tempest” itself is one of the most forward-looking and adventurous of all of Beethoven’s sonatas. The first movement, in particular, it’s all about blurring structural lines. (…)  because it is so structurally nebulous, it is unsettling, and because it is unsettling, it is riveting.
sonata.png

Lesen Sie nur Shakespeare’s Sturm.

sturm.png

Biographie von Ludwig van Beethoven by Schindler, Anton, 1795-1864

Analysis

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.

m1

m2

m3

Detailed analysis in the description.

See also

Performances

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

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

Artur Schnabel – 1935

Annie Fischer – 1977

Maria João Pires – 1974

Nº 11, Op. 22

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.22.

This work was composed in 1800 and published two years later by Hoffmeister, Leipzig with title Grande Sonate pour le Piano Forte, dedicated to Monsieur le Conte de Browne (husband of Countess Anna Margarete of Op. 10 no 1.).

Beethoven regarded it as the best of his early sonatas.

Diese Sonate hat sich gewaschen, geliebtester Herr Bruder!

Grande Sonate.png

Analysis

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.

Color-coded Analysis

11-1

11-2

11-3

11-4

Synthesia

Detailed analysis in the description.

See also

Performances

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

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

Artur Schnabel – 1935

Annie Fischer – 1977

Maurizio Pollini