Beethoven’s piano sonatas spanned a period of about thirty years, from around 1793 to 1822. The piano pieces were not evenly distributed, however, as about half of his works were written in his “early” period. The remaining half, however, are composed in his later “heroic” period, and end five years before Beethoven’s death. Here are some highlights from each of these three periods.
The first movement of the piano sonata is known as the Allegro. The second movement, which follows, is characterized by a slow movement. The third movement, which is called the scherzo, is a tango, and features Beethoven’s famous waltz. The fourth movement, referred to as the finale, features the same melody but in a slightly higher register. It also includes a reprise of the second theme from the first movement.
The second movement, called the Andante, is characterized by melancholy and resignation. The first theme remains in B minor throughout, but is played in a higher register in order to draw more attention. The second movement is playful and is written in a parallel major in B. The last section of the sonata is a revolving cadence on the key of B flat. The polyphonic writing is impeccable, and the themes are fundamentally related.
Also Read: The Different Types of Classical Music
Beethoven wrote many piano sonatas for both hands. The “Fantaisie and Sonate for the Forte-Piano” was published in December 1785. The two pieces were dedicated to Madame Therese von Trattner, a student of Mozart’s and the wife of a rich landlord. It is possible that the works were serious expressions of an unrequited love affair, though Mozart has not revealed any evidence of this.
The third movement of the sonata is composed in the same style as the first. It has five movements, all containing a central theme and a development section. The first movement begins with a low register and is marked Allegro. The second movement is playful and consists of a parallel major in B. The middle section returns to B minor and relates to the second theme in the first movement. A virtuoso pianist would surely enjoy Maves’ work.
Among the most popular piano sonatas of Beethoven’s “late” period are Op. 90 and Op. 101. They are divided into two movements: the first is a conflict-ridden conversation, while the second is a peaceful rondo. As a result, Op. 90 is Beethoven’s last piano sonata. These are the sonatas that Beethoven composed in his early years of Vienna.
The first movement of Beethoven’s sonatas is titled Grave. It is a sonata with augmentations and a codetta. The second movement is an outgrowth of the first, and is a continuation of the previous. The fourth movement is the sequel of the previous. It is a reversal of the fourth. A contrasting piece, titled Sonata No. 4, is the most famous sonata.