Cello Sonata No. 3 (Beethoven)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Ludwig van Beethoven's Cello Sonata No. 3 in A major, Op. 69 was written in 1808, during his middle period. The sonata was composed in the same year as the Piano Trios Op. 70 and the Choral Fantasy, and the same year the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, which were begun earlier, premiered.[1] It was first performed in March 1809 by cellist Nikolaus Kraft and pianist Dorothea von Ertmann, and dedicated to Baron Ignaz von Gleichenstein,[2] who was a cellist himself.

In the course of his life, Beethoven composed five sonatas for cello and piano. The Op. 69 was the first he had written since his Op. 5 over a decade earlier. Mark Kaplan writes: "In general, the writing in op. 69 is thinner than in the early cello sonatas ... greater compositional technique allowed Beethoven the possibility of using fewer notes with confidence."[3] The contemporary cellist Steven Isserlis describes it as the first cello sonata in history to give the two instruments equal importance.[4]

A performance takes about 25 minutes.


The work contains three movements, with an 18-bar slow introduction before the third movement:

  1. Allegro ma non tanto
  2. Scherzo. Allegro molto (in A minor)
  3. Adagio cantabile – Allegro vivace.

The first movement opens with an expansive melody with cello, as follows:

\relative c
\set Staff.midiInstrument = #"cello"
\key a
\time 2/2 
\clef bass
a2\p ( e'2)_\markup { \italic "dolce" } \mark "Allegro, ma non tanto." 
\set Score.repeatCommands = #'(start-repeat)
cis4 e d cis d8 b)
a2( gis4) e(
a fis cis dis)

The piano then plays a cadenza-like flourish, which leads into a repetition of the opening theme, this time played in octaves by the piano. A bridge passage follows, leading to a second theme, which is also repeated. The development gives greater emphasis to the first theme.[2] The movement is in sonata form.

The scherzo which follows is in the tonic minor, A minor, and makes prominent use of off-beat accents. The trio is in the major and is heard twice.

The slow introduction to the finale is in 2
time and the dominant key, E major. The finale is in sonata form and ends with an expressive coda.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ John Mangum. "Sonata for Cello and Piano No. 3 in A, Op. 69". LA Phil. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  2. ^ a b Matthew Rye (1996). "Cello Sonata in A major, Op 69". Hyperion Records. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  3. ^ Stanley, Glenn. The Cambridge Companion to Beethoven. Cambridge University Press, 2000. p. 140.
  4. ^ Isserlis, Steven (12 January 2007), "How I fell in love with Ludwig", The Guardian, retrieved 25 August 2015