BEETHOVEN'S PIANO SONATAS
Beethoven at the Piano
"The sonata is an essentially dramatic art form, combining the emotional range and vivid presentation of a full-sized stage drama with the terseness of a short story"
is how William Meredith quotes Donald Francis Tovey from his book, A Companion to Beethoven's Pianoforte Sonatas (London Associated Board, 19031), p. 263, in his article, "Beethoven's Sonata in A-flat Major, Opus 110: Music of Amiability, Lament, and Restoration", in The Beethoven Journal, Summer 2002, p. 14 - 29, which provides us with an idea of the concept of the sonata in general and thus also of the piano sonata, while the German music critic Joachim Kaiser, in his book, "Beethovens 32 Klaviersonaten und ihre Interpreten" asks his readers and himself this question, "Gibt es nun die >Idee<, die Besonderheit >der< Beethovenschen Klaviersonate schlechthin?" (Kaiser: 25; Kaiser asks himself if there exists an idea, or the special nature of >the> Beethoven Piano Sonata >per se<).
The scope of this line of statement(s) and questioning almost provides us with a motto for the chronological arrangement of this section of our web site, as we, in exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas, first try to trace the history of the development of the piano sonata as a compositional genre, which will lead us from its first beginnings to the great classical masters Mozart and Haydn from whom Beethoven took up the torch in order not to simply carry it on but rather in order to light his own flame with it.
After that, we will find ourselves tracing, in chronological order, the history of the creation, publication and possible dedication of each of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas while we also try to take a look at Beethoven's general life circumstances during the time of their creation.
This will be followed by an overview of each sonata's musical content as seen from the viewpoint of Beethoven biographers and researchers, music critics and from that of an active, performing pianist.
Wherever possible, we will also try to provide you with links to listening samples of these works and to further, serious research.
We wish you an enjoyable time of exploration with all of it!