LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Piano Sonata no. 8 in C minor, Op 13, 1st Movement
Commonly known as the Sonata Pathétique, this work was written in 1798 when the composer was 27 years old, and was published in 1799, with a dedication to his friend, the Austrian Prince Karl von Lichnowsky. The Pathetique hails from the early part of Beethoven’s career, a time when traditions of the Classical periods are still dominant and composers at the time were spinning out highly technical, exquisitely formal music trinkets in the style perfected by Haydn & Mozart, and Beethoven himself was largely content to compose within these restrains, experimented with new formal designs and movement structures as he developed his compositional style. The Sonata Pathetique follows all the composing rules of the day, but with an extra dimension of expression and emotions which strikes the heart. The piece is in C minor, often the favourite key of Beethoven in composing powerful music. Many believe that this piece was directly inspired by Mozart’s piano sonata K.547, since both works are in the same key and contain 3 very similar movements. While there might be links, many of these are arguably tenuous, the music is undeniably Beethoven’s, and shows that a young composer already thoroughly at ease with the concept of sonata form, and clearly able to use it to convey deep meaning. The title ‘Pathetique’ means affecting the emotions of pity, grief, or sorrow. It was believed that the title was not invented by Beethoven himself, instead by the publisher because of its tragic sonorities, albeit with the composer’s blessing.
The first movement, Grave- Allegro di molto e con brio, is in sonata form. It begins with a slow and heavy introductory theme inspired from an orchestral overture in baroque style, which is very unusual and different at that time because a slow introduction is rarely seen in a classical sonata form. This dark movement soon turns face-paced with a memorable melody at...
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