250 Years of Beethoven

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s greatest composers; Ludwig van Beethoven.

To mark this anniversary, events world-wide had been planned for 2020 but the coronavirus situation has meant the postponement or cancellation of most… but not all. Like I have had to do with my piano lessons, some of the events have pivoted to become online celebrations.

Like most musicians, I had planned my own tribute to this influential composer which I present here.

Moonlight Sonata

The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C♯ minor “Quasi una fantasia”, Op. 27, No. 2, popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata was completed in 1801 and dedicated in 1802 to his pupil, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi. Beethoven composed this piece while in his early thirties.

The sonata has 3 movements; Adagio sostenuto, Allegretto and Presto agitato. Here I will concentrate on what is probably the most famous movement, the Adagio.

The Adagio was popular even in Beethoven’s day and is instantly recognisable to anyone with even a passing interest in classical music.

At the opening of the first movement, Beethoven included the following direction “This whole piece ought to be played with the utmost delicacy and without dampers”. Modern pianos have much stronger sustain characteristics than the pianos of Beethoven’s era, so it’s easy to get this piece completely wrong and good pedal control, as well as keyboard playing, is needed to bring the piece to life.

I recently recorded the Adagio and present it here for your enjoyment.

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