Beethoven’s sonata in F major, Op. 10/2, has always been a favorite of mine. It’s almost impossible to not be in a good mood after hearing it, as everything just seems to be there—irreplicable humor, vitality, reconciliation, lyricism, among so many other qualities. One can almost take the joyous mood of Op. 10/2 for granted. Sure, […]
The Wiener Urtext edition of selected piano pieces by Beethoven (not sonatas or variations), edited by Alfred Brendel, contains an eclectic mixture of the known and the unknown. The Andante Favori and the three sets of bagatelles, opuses 33, 119, and 126, are the most important masterpieces in the collection, interspersed with eccentric and lovable works such […]
The comic Vivace that forms the thirteenth of the 33 variations exploits contrasts of rhythm, dynamics, and register. The initial dotted figure energizes the thrust to the downbeat, reflecting but intensifying the model of Diabelli’s waltz, as Beethoven employs full-voiced A-minor chords in place of the lighter sonorities of the waltz. While so reformulating Diabelli’s […]
Many composers are viewed through the lens of their creative periods, but none more so than Beethoven. The concept of his “three periods” has become an inescapable paradigm for musicians and listeners alike, so much so that whenever we hear a work by Beethoven, we rush, even if subconsciously, to assign a period label to […]
Many of our most beloved works are experienced by listeners and musicians on emotional and mental levels. The two are not in the least contradictory, and we can admire one work for its moving melodiousness and another for its architectural qualities. How often, though, are we physically enthralled by a work of music? Are there […]
Were we to walk in on a performance of the Diabelli Variations as the ninth variation comes to its melodramatic end and the pianissimo figures that open the tenth variation start trickling down the keyboard, we would not be too far off if guessing that what we hear is a transcription of a finale to an act […]
The Andante Favori was initially intended to be the second movement of Beethoven’s “Waldstein” sonata, but it ended up as a standalone work. Had it been the second movement of the muscular and heroic “Waldstein,” it would have inevitably been compared to the outer movements, but fortunately, as a separate work, we can focus on its qualities without drawing any comparisons.