All About Ludwig van Beethoven

Information on Beethoven, his life, his music and classical sheet music

Best 5 Beethoven Books on Amazon

1.Beethoven: The Universal Composer by Edmund Morris

2.Beethoven by Maynard Solomon

3.Beethoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood

4.Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination by Maynard Solomon

5.Beethoven as I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler

Classical Sheet Music Downloads at Virtual Sheet Music

Piano Sonata in G major op. 81, The grand sonata in B flat major op. 106, Sonata in C minor op. 111

Sonata in G major op. 81 a is perhaps one of Beethoven’s most popular sonatas, one of great originality. Beethoven published the programme of this work. Each part bears a distinct title: Farewell, Absence, and Return. The sonata was dedicated to the archduke Rudolf, with the following note on the manuscript: “Farewell on the occasion of the departure of His Royal Highness, the Honorable Archduke Rudolf, Vienna, May 21st 1809.” (Edwin Fischer, Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas). The sonata is also known as Les Adieux, title given by editor Breitkoph without Beethoven’s permission.

The sonata starts with a slow introduction where we notice the sounds of the bugle announcing the departure of the postalion and at the same time suggesting a feeling of sadness of leaving. Then there is rendered a picture of great joy, conjuring up the adventures of the journey presented with extraordinary humor. The second part – Andante – renders the feelings of the abandoned man, in echoes of the first musical theme. The sonata ends in an atmosphere of absolute bliss.

The grand sonata in B flat major op. 106, grandiose in its dimensions, hence its title, was composed in 1818, published in 1819 by Artaria and it was dedicated to archduke Rudolf of Austria. It is perhaps the most valuable of Beethoven’s sonatas and at the same time the most difficult one of all from a technical point of view. Beethoven himself recognized this: “Here is a sonata that will bring much trouble to pianists and that will be performed only fifty years from now.” And indeed, only towards the end of the century, pianist Hans von Bulow will play it splendidly, consecrating the sonata amongst the great values of world music.

The sonata was written under difficult circumstances for Beethoven’s life: “It’s hard being forced to compose to earn a living!” Liszt interpreted this sonata magisterially remaining in the memory of his listeners and of the artist who performed it before his death.

The manner in which Beethoven conceives part IV is worthy of his genius. If in the first three parts you have the feeling of divine revelation, through the fuga in the fourth part, man descends on earth. This fuga of great technicity, but of remarkable psychological effect, is considered a genuine reward Beethoven offers the instrumentalists. Many pianists consider it however an exercise of counterpoint and it is thus much criticized.

Sonata in C minor op. 111 is dedicated to archduke Rudolf and it is composed in 1822, closing the great cycle of sonatas, the peak of Beethoven’s genius. It is constructed in two parts, one symbolizing the world proper, material, in the first part and the immaterial world in the second part.

Part I – Maestoso – in the form of a sonata, through its main theme, seems to express every man’s struggle with the everyday hardships. That is perhaps why pianists interpret it with “iron fingers”.

Excerpt from Beethoven's Sonata in C minor op. 111, Part I

Part II – Arietta – presents a musical theme, of great lyricism in variation form. The theme resonating at the beginning of Arietta is somewhat harsh and it slowly slides into dreamy, luminous tones through several variations, just like the ending of Aurora.

Excerpt from Beethoven's Sonata in C minor op. 111, Part I

This work concludes the cycle of 32 piano sonatas, each and every one of them constituting a step forward both in the evolution of the sonata as genre and as form.

Read more about Beethoven's music