Beethoven Sonata No. 27

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Michelle Y. Lee
Dr. Macfarlane
December 17, 2012
Music Theory III
Music Theory III Final Paper
Beethoven Sonata No. 27 (e minor)
This piece is highly unusual for Beethoven Sonatas. One, although it was written at the start of his late period, this sonata had only two movements, the first being extremely short. Secondly, this was the first that Beethoven started writing his tempo markings in German, as though implying that this Sonata was more personal. Beethoven has also remarked on this piece that he considered titling it either “Struggle Between Head and Heart" or "Conversation with the Beloved". This sonata was dedicated to Count Moritz von Lichnowsky and so describes the love affair he was having at the time. Beethoven literally gave the Count this sonata with the words, “This Sonata describes your love life.”

The first movement of the sonata has an extremely short development, and a surprising coda. The second movement is much longer, much like a Schubert sonata and has another surprising ending of a small epilogue. In fact, Schubert’s first sonata (unfinished) 2nd movement, shows a distinct likeliness to this piece’s 2nd movement. It would almost seem like Schubert’s first sonata was a tribute to Beethoven.

Written in 1814, there is a 5 year gap from his last sonata. He gives exact instructions for his tempo markings because, as he said, “I am deaf, and I can no longer play the piano. Therefore, I must give exact instructions to the performer.” In fact, he became so particular, that he started notating exactly where his dynamic changes are, leaving almost no room for the performer for adjustments.

Listening to a lecture recital by Andrea Schiff, he has remarked that Sonata no. 27 is one of the most mysterious of the 32 sonatas. This sonata was written deliberately not to ‘please’ his audience. He wrote it to promote discussion among music lovers and pianists. This sonata wasn’t even written to be performed on stage. Both movements of this...
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