Piano sonatas (Beethoven)

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Ludwig van Beethoven wrote his 32 piano sonatas between 1795 and 1822. Although originally not intended to be a meaningful whole, as a set they comprise one of the most important collections of works in the history of music.[1] Hans von Bülow called them "The New Testament" of music (Johann Sebastian Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier being "The Old Testament").[2]

Beethoven's piano sonatas came to be seen as the first cycle of major piano pieces suited to concert hall performance.[1] Being suitable for both private and public performance, Beethoven's sonatas form "a bridge between the worlds of the salon and the concert hall".[1]

List of sonatas[edit]

Opus 2: Three Piano Sonatas (1795)

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

Opus 10: Three Piano Sonatas (1798)

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

Opus 14: Two Piano Sonatas (1799)

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

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

Opus 27: Two Piano Sonatas (1801)

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

Opus 31: Three Piano Sonatas (1802)

Opus 49: Two Piano Sonatas (1805)

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)

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

Opus 106: Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat major ("Hammerklavier") (1819)

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)

Recordings and performances[edit]

In a single concert cyclus, the whole 32 sonatas were first performed by Hans von Bülow;[3] the first to make a complete recording was Artur Schnabel, who recorded them for EMI between 1932 and 1935 (he was also the first since von Bülow to play the complete cycle in concert from memory).[4] New Zealand concert pianist Michael Houstoun has performed the full sonata cycle twice; first at the age of 40, and then 20 years later in 2013.[5] What makes this an outstanding achievement is that in between those two cycles, Houston overcame focal hand dystonia.[6] Other pianists to make complete recordings after Schnabel include Vladimir Ashkenazy, Claudio Arrau, Wilhelm Backhaus, Daniel Barenboim, Malcolm Binns (on period pianos), Alfred Brendel, Annie Fischer, Richard Goode, Friedrich Gulda, Wilhelm Kempff, András Schiff, Russell Sherman, Gerard Willems (the only pianist to do so using a Stuart & Sons piano) and Paul Lewis. Emil Gilels also began to record the set but died before he could complete it.


  1. ^ a b c Rosen (2002), accompanying note
  2. ^ "Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier - Das Wohltemperierte Clavier - release information". Retrieved 9 September 2011. 
  3. ^ Carnegie Room Concerts
  4. ^ Beethoven Complete Piano Sonatas in Two Volumes, ed. by Artur Schnabel, Alfred Masterwork Edition, Publisher's Preface
  5. ^ Hannigan, Margot (21 August 2013). "Beethoven, Houston a treat for audience". The Nelson Mail. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Johnston, Alexia; Williams, Al (4 June 2012). "Our outstanding Kiwis". The Timaru Herald. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 


  • Rosen, Charles (2002). Beethoven's Piano Sonatas: A Short Companion. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-09070-3. 
  • Tovey, Donald (1999). A Companion to Beethoven's Piano Sonatas. Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. ISBN 978-1-86096-086-4. 
  • Rostal, Max (1985). Beethoven, the sonatas for piano and violin: thoughts on their interpretation. Toccata Press. ISBN 978-0-907689-05-8. 
  • Taub, Robert (2009). Playing the Beethoven Piano Sonatas. Amadeus Press. ISBN 978-1-57467-178-0. 
  • Behrend, William (1988). Ludwig Van Beethoven's Pianoforte Sonatas. Ams Pr Inc. ISBN 978-0-404-12861-6. 
  • Matthews, Denis (1967). Beethoven piano sonatas. British Broadcasting Corporation. 
  • Drake, Kenneth (2000). The Beethoven sonatas and the creative experience. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-21382-2. 
  • Harding, Henry Alfred (2010). Analysis of Form in Beethoven's Sonatas. Nabu Press. ISBN 978-1-176-31116-9. 

External links[edit]