The unfathomable deepness of Beet-hoven's music appears already in the early
sonatas. Apart from the conductor's energy of rhythm in the first movements one
might find the images of eternity, the sounds of the world that is lying beyond
It seems that one can hear the steps of God in Largo Appassionato of the Second
Sonata. The philosophic meditation in Adagio from the Third Sonata enchants with
its grandeur. In Largo e mesto from the Seventh Sonata, the young composer turns
his attention to the theme of death.
It is interesting that in his sonatas his ingeniousness of a great philosopher
discloses itself earlier than in his symphonic works. Just let us consider: the
Third Symphony was composed approximately at the same time as Appassionata (¹
23, op.57). In the cycle of 32 sonatas, each one has its own personality, its
own "face". The Ninth Sonata is elegant and graceful. The humor of the Finale
reminds of the Seventh sonata; it shows how much joy, temperament and
cheerfulness was there in the nature of Beethoven's genius.
Sonata no.14 in C sharp minor, op.27, Moonlight stands by itself (the name
wasn't given by the composer). The sonata is dedicated to Countess Giulietta
Guicciardi; it is an autobiographical page in Beethoven's work. The second
movement reminds of a young girl’s portrait depicted with a loving hand… The
Finale is a violent burst of emotion; the second theme, passionate, full of deep
feeling, is like a declaration of love that was never shared.
The first movement is worth a special mentioning. Just three pages, not so much
notes… The power of this music has a special meaning; its influence on people is
magic. From the very first sounds, there is always a reverential silence…
The image of the first movement is a mournful loneliness of an artist tragically
isolated from this world. When I speak of Beethoven, I think of the moment when
it became absolutely clear that he was doomed to be a deaf musician. The Nature
made a horrible experiment: was it possible to compose music without being able
to hear? Beethoven proved with all his life that the answer was yes.
Sonata no.23 in F minor, op.57, Appassionata.
The name doesn't belong to Beethoven. It had appeared later in one of the
posthumous editions. Its interpretation might have two different meanings. In
Latin, the word "passion" means strong feeling, passion, "passionato" means
passionately. But there is an older interpretation of the word - suffering,
severe trial, terrible ordeal. Appassionata has some autobiographic features.
The second movement reminds of the authentic interpretation of the word
"passion". The choral becomes a theme for a cycle of variations. They follow the
traditional images of Christmas that might be seen in any museum of the world.
In my imagination, I can see the Magi with their dark tones - the lower
register; Virgin Mary, bright and radiant - in the centre of the composition;
The Holy Infant is depicted with the light colours of the upper registers.
The fully diminished chord with which the Finale breaks in is a traditional
chord of horror. In Bach's Mathews Passion, it was used when Pilate asked the
people of Jerusalem: "Who is to be released?" - And the crowd answered: "Barabbas!"
Beethoven's Appassionata is a sonata of passions. The publisher who gave the
title to this work knew the life of the composer and felt the spirit of his
creation that had combined two meanings of the word "passion".
Sonata no.26 in E flat major, op.81 a, Les Adieux (Farewell).
The title belongs to Beethoven. This is the only Beethoven's sonata that has a
program, with all movements' titles given by the composer himself: Das Lebewohl
(The Farewel), Abwesenheit (The Absence), Das Wiedersehen (The Return). The
sound of the post horn that dies away in the air; reflections and thoughts about
the parting that is mysterious and inevitable... For those who stay, the one
that has gone seems to exist in another world, another space and time. He is
absent, he is not here, it is impossible to communicate with him. Farewell
divides us: there are those who left and others that had stayed. It is a symbol
of the great separation that awaits all people. There are two parallel lines in
music: meditation, on one side, and the fuss of the departure, on the other.
There are two personalities: one is lost in thought, meditating, longing for the
one that is absent; the other is active. And a little epilogue in the end, where
the time is slowing down, finally coming to a stop. Everything sinks in the past
and becomes a shadow.
Sonata no.32 in C minor, op.111 is a kind of a self portrait of the later period
of Beethoven's life. It might remind of Michelangelo's Last Testament. Grief and
anger, might and grandeur… From the threshold of his last sonata, Beethoven
turns back, throwing a glance on his past. A recollection appears: the melody
from the finale of the Moonlight Sonata might be heard in the high register. It
starts and breaks off suddenly. The roar of the low register dies away…
Beethoven called the second movement Arietta. It is an embodiment of the
primordial purity. The theme and variations conclude the cycle of thirty two
sonatas and life itself. Beethoven can't hear any of the sounds from outside,
from the real world; but he hears those that are inside, in his soul. His
anguish turns into a miracle of light and beauty.