Beethoven’s 18th

Beethoven’s Sonatas…

Ludwig van Beethoven died in 1827. He was 57 years old. He had lived a life filled with tragedy, resulting from the loss of his hearing, the one sense that ought to have been most developed and most cherished in the professional life of a composer of music.

Beethoven also had difficulties in his relationships. One example is the many issues he had with his nephew, Karl. The other is the set of difficulties that he experienced in creating satisfying relationships with women.

As a composer, Beethoven left us with 9 symphonies, five piano concerti, one violin concerto, one Opera, lots of chamber music, ranging from trios, to quartets. He also composed violin and piano sonatas, overtures, songs for voice and piano accompaniment, AND… a collection of 32 sonatas for piano alone.

I have been studying the piano sonatas for the past year. No… not as a performer. In my next life, perhaps I’ll learn to play the piano, although the Viola and the Cello will come first. By “study”, I mean the work I am doing to understand the structure, the style, the spirit, and the “message” that I feel the composer had for the listener, as I interpret it.

A recent sonata that I studied is the sonata number 18 in E-flat. It is in four movements, and the third is a wonderfully melodic, hymn-like composition which I find myself playing over and over again. Why? This music “speaks” to me because of its lyrical beauty, and the perfection of its structure.

Here are some interpretations of this music. Feel free to write your own comments at the bottom of this post. There is no “right answer”! Tell me your own personal view of the interpretations that you find meaningful.

First, let’s listen to Daniel Barenboim, as he plays the Beethoven Sonata No. 18 in E flat Major, Op. 31 No. 3



And next, here’s Sviatoslav Richter playing Beethoven in Moscow 1992:


And now, here’s the third movement from Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 18 performed wonderfully by the great Hungarian pianist András Schiff. As I told you above, the third movement is my great favorite:



And now, here’s Glenn Gould with his interpretation of the third movement of this sonata:


Finally, after the tender, and melodic third movement, Beethoven tells the performer to change the mood and let the music fly as fast as it can toward the conclusion. Here is Ingrid Fliter playing the Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major, Op. 31, No. 3 by Beethoven. This is the final movement titled ‘Presto con Fuoco’



Tags: Beethoven, Piano sonata #18, compare performances, Barenboim, Gould, Ingrid Fliter, Andras Schiff, Richter

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