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Composition and reception
The Andante favori was written between 1803 and 1804, and published in 1805. It was originally intended to be the second of the three movements of Beethoven's Waldstein Piano Sonata, Op. 53. The following extract from Thayer's Beethoven biography explains the change:
- Ries reports (Notizen, p. 101) that a friend of Beethoven's said to him that the sonata was too long, for which he was terribly taken to task by the composer. But after quiet reflection Beethoven was convinced of the correctness of the criticism. The andante... was therefore excluded and in its place supplied the interesting Introduction to the rondo which it now has. A year after the publication of the sonata, the andante also appeared separately.
It was composed as a musical declaration of love for Countess Josephine Brunsvik, but the Brunsvik family increased the pressure to terminate the relationship. She could not contemplate marrying Beethoven, a commoner.
The reason for the title was given by Beethoven's pupil Czerny, quoted in Thayer: "Because of its popularity (for Beethoven played it frequently in society) he gave it the title Andante favori ("favored Andante").
The Andante favori is in F major (the subdominant of the Waldstein key), in 3/8 time, and is marked Andante grazioso con moto. Formally, the work is a rondo, with each return of the theme appearing in varied form. The theme itself is fairly extended and in ternary form. The work takes about nine minutes to play.
Adaptations in popular culture
The makers of the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice used the Andante favori as the musical content of a concocted scene in which Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy exchange tender glances while his sister Georgiana plays the andante on the fortepiano.[a] The action of the scene is timed to match two modulations in the music, from F to D♭ major and then back again.
- Thayer, Alexander Wheelock The Life of Ludwig van Beethoven Translated by Henry Edward Krehbiel (1921) New York: The Beethoven Association.
- Thayer, Alexander Wheelock The Life of Ludwig van Beethoven Vol. II, Chap. III The Year 1805, Translated by Henry Edward Krehbiel, (1921) New York: The Beethoven Association.
- Tellenbach, Marie-Elizabeth Beethoven and His "Immortal Beloved" Josephine Brunsvik XIX. Tacit Dedications and the Brunsvik Sonatas, Translated by John E. Klapproth (2014) North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace.
- "Beethoven and Pepi, what is this going to be? ... She must be on her guard! Her heart must have the strength to say no, a sad duty." [Beethoven und Pepi, was soll daraus werden? Sie soll auf ihrer Hut sein! ... Ihr Herz muss die Kraft haben nein zu sagen, eine traurige Pflicht.] (Therese to Charlotte, 20 January 1805, in La Mara 1920, p. 54.)
- "I would have to violate sacred bonds if I gave in to your request – Believe me – that I, by doing what is my duty, suffer the most – and that surely noble motives were guiding my actions." [Ich müßte heilige Bande verletzen, gäbe ich Ihrem Verlangen Gehör – Glauben Sie – daß ich, durch Erfüllung meiner Pflichten, am meisten leide – und daß gewiß, edle Beweggründe meine Handlungen leiteten.] (Josephine to Beethoven, Winter 1806/7, in Schmidt-Görg 1957, p. 21.) See also Tellenbach (1988) for the effect of guardianship laws.
- Pride and Prejudice (1995) BBC. Episode 5, about six minutes from the beginning.