Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Beethoven's Piano Sonatas among the new entries to the 2018 National Recording Registry

Last updated 11/16/2020.

Piano Sonatas (32)

Ludwig van Beethoven (composer)

Composed: 1795-1822

Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classical

Early Sonatas:

Opus 2: Three Piano Sonatas (1795)

  • No. 1: Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor
  • No. 2: Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major
  • No. 3: Piano Sonata No. 3 in C major

Opus 7: Piano Sonata No. 4 in E-flat major ("Grand Sonata") (1797)

Opus 10: Three Piano Sonatas (1798)

  • No. 1: Piano Sonata No. 5 in C minor
  • No. 2: Piano Sonata No. 6 in F major
  • No. 3: Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major

Opus 13: Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor ("Pathétique") (1798)

Opus 14: Two Piano Sonatas (1799)

  • No. 1: Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major (Also arranged by the composer for String Quartet in F major (H 34) in 1801)
  • No. 2: Piano Sonata No. 10 in G major

Opus 22: Piano Sonata No. 11 in B-flat major (1800)

Middle Sonatas:

Opus 26: Piano Sonata No. 12 in A-flat major ("Funeral March") (1801)

Opus 27: Two Piano Sonatas (1801)

  • No. 1: Piano Sonata No. 13 in E-flat major 'Sonata quasi una fantasia'
  • No. 2: Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor 'Sonata quasi una fantasia' ("Moonlight")

Opus 28: Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major ("Pastoral") (1801)

Opus 31: Three Piano Sonatas (1802)

  • No. 1: Piano Sonata No. 16 in G major
  • No. 2: Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor ("Tempest")
  • No. 3: Piano Sonata No. 18 in E-flat major ("The Hunt")

Opus 49: Two Piano Sonatas (composed 1795–6, published 1805)

  • No. 1: Piano Sonata No. 19 in G minor
  • No. 2: Piano Sonata No. 20 in G major

Opus 53: Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major ("Waldstein") (1803)

  • WoO 57: Andante Favori — Original middle movement of the "Waldstein" sonata (1804)

Opus 54: Piano Sonata No. 22 in F major (1804)

Opus 57: Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor ("Appassionata") (1805)

Opus 78: Piano Sonata No. 24 in F-sharp major ("A Thérèse") (1809)

Opus 79: Piano Sonata No. 25 in G major (1809)

Opus 81a: Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-flat major ("Les adieux/Das Lebewohl") (1810)

Opus 90: Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor (1814)

Late Sonatas:

Opus 101: Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major (1816)

Opus 106: Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat major ("Hammerklavier") (1818)

Opus 109: Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major (1820)

Opus 110: Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major (1821)

Opus 111: Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor (1822)

Average Duration: 10-11 hours


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About the Sonatas:

Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas, written over more than a quarter century, were not originally intended as “a meaningful whole,” WK but “as a set they compose one of the most important collections of works in the history of music. Hans von Bülow called them ‘The New Testament’ of music (Johann Sebastian Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier being ‘The Old Testament’).” WK

“Beethoven's piano sonatas came to be seen as the first cycle of major piano pieces suited to concert hall performance. Being suitable for both private and public performance, Beethoven’s sonatas form a bridge between the worlds of the salon and the concert hall.” WK

The sonatas have been grouped as the early sonatas (1-11), middle sonatas (12-27) and late sonatas (28-32). The early sonatas “were highly influenced by those of Haydn and Mozart.” WK His middle sonatas “are very different from his earlier ones;” WK “his experimentation in modifications to the common sonata form of Haydn and Mozart became more daring, as did the depth of expression.” WK The late sonatas comprise “some of today's most difficult repertoire. Yet again, his music found a new path, often incorporating fugal technique and displaying radical departure from conventional sonata form. The Hammerklavier was deemed to be Beethoven's most difficult sonata yet. In fact, it was considered unplayable until almost 15 years later, when Liszt played it in a concert.” WK

“In a single concert cycle, the whole 32 sonatas were first performed by Hans von Bülow. A number of other pianists have emulated this feat, including Artur Schnabel (the first since Bülow to play the complete cycle in concert from memory),” WK who was also the first pianist to make a complete recording of the sonatas. He recorded them between 1932 and 1935 for EMI. WK His recordings were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1975 and the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2018.

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