“Tempest” & “Moonlight” Sonata’s: a Coupled Analysis

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Classic Composers: Ludwig van Beethoven

“Tempest” & “Moonlight” Sonata’s: A Coupled Analysis

Beethoven’s “Tempest” and “Moonlight” sonatas are by themselves sublime pieces to any ear, each encapsulating within their notes such a build up of extreme human emotion, until their 3rd movements wherein which the pressure becomes to much to contain, ultimately resulting in a climax of genuine sentiment. When one interprets the final movements of both sonatas in such a way that the similarities as well as the differences between the two can be acknowledged, one then cannot only better understand the reasons those same movements are able to exemplify such striking affects, but also why the emotion that is instituted by them is individually so contrasting in complexion.

Both pieces’ completion dates can be used to accurately mark the “middle” period, or “heroic” decade of Beethoven’s career. Their final movements are both written in sonata form, and both utilize the frequent arpeggiation of chords in varying sequences which serve to create a short of emotional tension throughout. However, the specific type of emotion that is portrayed within each movement draws light upon the differences between the two.

For instance, the 3rd movement of “moonlight” seems to explode straight out of the gates. When compared to the pieces second movement, a minuet, the 3rd and final movement seems an abrupt rousing from the contentment felt within the 2nd. Personally, I envision the 1st movement as a period of sparked passion between figures, wherein which a type of connection and perhaps obsession is formed. The extent unto which the figures individually acknowledge this presence of interest is unknown. It is clear that a goal or destination has been set, and throughout the rest of the piece up until the start of the 3rd movement, we witness a struggle for the obtainment of this goal. A sense of an increased emotional attachment can be acknowledged within the...
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