Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor "Sonata Pathétique", Op. 13
Beethoven wrote his Eighth Piano Sonata (Pathetique) in 1797 and it was published in 1799. The piece was written during what is considered his “early” period. The Pathetique sonata is technically considered to be in the “classical” era of music history but it has many romantic elements. Beethoven is well known for making the first steps towards romanticism because of his adventures in harmony, structural complexity and rhythm.
Piano Sonata No. 12 in A-flat major, Opus 26
Composed in 1800–1801, around the same time he completed his First Symphony. He dedicated the sonata to Prince Karl von Lichnowsky, who had been his patron since 1792.
Consisting of four movements, the sonata takes around 20 minutes to perform.
Andante con variazioni 3/8
Scherzo, allegro molto 3/4 A-flat major, D-flat major, A-flat major
Maestoso andante, marcia funebre sulla morte d'un eroe 4/4 A-flat minor, A-flat major
Allegro, Rondo form 2/4 A-flat major
The structure of the sonata is unconventional in that the piece opens with a relatively slow movement in the format of theme and variations. In contrast, the remaining movements of the sonata proceed according to classical principles in fast-slow-fast alternation. The third movement incorporates a funeral march, clearly anticipating the watershed of the Eroica Symphony that Beethoven wrote in 1803-1804. This is the only movement from his sonatas that Beethoven arranged for orchestra, and was played during Beethoven's own funeral procession in 1827.
This sonata is also unusual in that none of its four movements is in sonata-allegro form.
In most of Beethoven's four-movement sonatas, the third movement is in 3/4 and in ternary form, while the second movement is slow and in a different key from the other movements. In this sonata, the second and third movements have switched roles, where the second movement is the ternary scherzo and trio, while the third movement is the slow movement in the tonic minor.
The main theme of Schubert's Impromptu in A-flat major, Op. 142 No. 2 is strikingly similar to the theme in the first movement of Beethoven's sonata. The four-bar phrases that open these pieces are almost identical in most musical aspects: key, harmony, voicing, register, and basic as well as harmonic rhythm. Another less immediate connection exists with the main theme, also in A-flat major, of the Adagio movement in Schubert's piano sonata in C minor, D. 958. Indeed, Schubert may have borrowed these themes from Beethoven, as he often did in his compositions.
This sonata was greatly admired by Chopin, who repeated its basic sequence of scherzo, funeral march with trio, and perpetuum mobile finale in his own Piano Sonata in B-flat minor. His first movement, however, is also animated and in sonata form, unlike Beethoven's Andante con variazioni.
Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia", Op. 27, No. 2
The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor "Quasi una fantasia", Op. 27, No. 2, popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata, is a piano sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1801 and dedicated in 1802 to his pupil, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, it is one of Beethoven's most popular compositions for the piano.
The first edition of the score is headed Sonata quasi una fantasia, a title this work shares with its companion piece, Op. 27, No. 1. Grove Music Online translates the Italian title as "sonata in the manner of a fantasy". Translated more literally, this is "sonata almost a fantasy".
The name "Moonlight Sonata" comes from remarks made by the German music critic and poet Ludwig Rellstab. In 1832, five years after Beethoven's death, Rellstab likened the effect of the first movement to that of moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne. Within ten years, the name "Moonlight Sonata" ("Mondscheinsonate" in German) was being used in German and English publications. Later in the nineteenth century, the sonata was universally known by that name.
Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major "Pastorale", Op. 28 by Ludwig van Beethoven
It has been debated whether the title ‘pastoral’ refers to the sense of countryside and nature (the 6th symphony pastoral sense), or to its sense of calm, simplicity and lightness. Beethoven's publishers had a tendency to name his sonatas without consulting Beethoven himself. Beethoven wrote most of his works with greatly contrasting parts, and behaves no differently in this sonata. Though its first and last movements can well be described as “pastorale,” the inner two movements do not partake of those qualities at all.
In the upper part of the sheet on which he had written his piano sonata op. 28, Beethoven noted down the date: 1801. The sonata is also called "Pastoral sonata" or "Little pastoral sonata" and is characterized as an idyllic and rural piece close to nature. What cannot be heard in the music is Beethoven's health in the year when the sonata was written. In that year he first confessed the deterioration of his hearing to two friends, Franz Gerhard Wegeler and Karl Amenda. On June 29st, 1801, Beethoven told Wegeler, his childhood friend from Bonn and now a physician, that the jealous demon, namely his poor health, played havoc with him, and that for three years his hearing had continuously worsened - a catastrophe for a practicing musician. Beethoven asked Wegeler not to share this information with others. Only a few days later on July 1st, 1801, Beethoven confided in another close friend, Karl Amenda, who had moved to the Baltic states, and told him that his hearing had diminished ever since Amenda had left Vienna and that he did not know whether the condition could be cured. He also asked Amenda to keep this a secret. On November 16th, 1801, Beethoven again turned to Wegeler and sent him a letter asking about a possible therapy. He told Wegeler how sad and bleak the past two years had been for him with his hearing resembling a ghost and he himself shunning human contact. In the same letter, however, Beethoven gives evidence of his strong will to live, showing clearly the possibility of a coexistence of music and serious suffering: I will tempt fate and it shall not defeat me. Oh, living a life a thousand times is so wonderful but a quiet life, I could not bear. Thus Beethoven accepted his destiny and thereby always managed to express hope and joy in his works.
Piano Sonata No.19 in G minor, Op.49 No.1
The Piano Sonata No. 19 in G minor, Op. 49, No. 1, and Piano Sonata No. 20 in G major, Op. 49, No. 2, are short (and are considered relatively simple sonatas by some pianists) by Ludwig van Beethoven, published in 1805 (although the works were likely composed several years earlier). Both works are approximately eight minutes in length, and are split into two movements. These sonatas are referred to as the Leichte Sonaten to be given to his friends and students.
Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57 (colloquially known as the Appassionata, meaning "passionate" in Italian) is among the three famous piano sonatas of his middle period (the others being the Waldstein, Op. 53 and Les Adieux, Op. 81a); it was composed during 1804 and 1805, and perhaps 1806, and was dedicated to Count Franz von Brunswick. The first edition was published in February 1807 in Vienna.
Unlike the early Sonata No. 8, Pathétique, the Appassionata was not named during the composer's lifetime, but was so labelled in 1838 by the publisher of a four-hand arrangement of the work.
One of his greatest and most technically challenging piano sonatas, the Appassionata was considered by Beethoven to be his most tempestuous piano sonata until the twenty-ninth piano sonata (known as the Hammerklavier). 1803 was the year Beethoven came to grips with the irreversibility of his progressively deteriorating hearing.
Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor, "Für Elise"
Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor (WoO 59 and Bia 515) for solo piano, commonly known as "FürElise" or "Fuer Elise" (German: [fyːʁ eːˈliːzə], English: "For Elise", commonly written without German diacritical marks as "Fur Elise"), is one of Ludwig van Beethoven's most popular compositions. It is usually classified as a bagatelle, but it is also sometimes referred to as an Albumblatt.
It is not certain who "Elise" was. Max Unger suggested that Ludwig Nohl may have transcribed the title incorrectly and the original work may have been named "Für Therese", a reference to Therese Malfatti von Rohrenbach zu Dezza (1792–1851). She was a friend and student of Beethoven's to whom he proposed in 1810, though she turned him down to marry the Austrian nobleman and state official Wilhelm von Droßdik in 1816. Note that the piano sonata no.24, dedicated to Countess Thérèse von Brunswick, is also referred to sometimes as "für Therese".