Beethoven Piano Sonata 20

Opus 49, No. 2 "Leichte Sonata"

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Beethoven Piano Sonata 20 First edition

Beethoven Piano Sonata 20 –First Edition

Vienna, 1805.


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"The genie is made up of 2% talent and 98% constant perseverance." –L. V. Beethoven.

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Beethoven Piano Sonata 20 –Interesting Facts

The second of Beethoven's two little sonatas Op.49 is a delicately playful and aristocratic work. The first movement features an ultra-compressed development and two themes that are surprisingly well linked by motivating links. The second movement, a minuet, is almost a small study in instrumental textures; Section A is written for a string section, B for wind instruments, and C for brass.

Beethoven Piano Sonata 20 –Novelties

An interesting point is that the manuscript of this sonata does not contain any dynamic indication at all, with the exception of two pianissimos in the second movement. Pianists really are left to their own devices, and it is surprising that so many choose the same dynamic scheme. A definite point of divergence lies in the interpretation of Menuet's section A: some pianists take staccato with their left hand, and some play it legato.

First Movement

Measures 1 to 21

A four-note motif from the opening theme is the basis for the second theme.

Measures 36 to 48

The second theme area borrows the opening theme, with rhythmic patterns of eighth note triplets followed by four quarter notes, bars 36–41, and modifying it in bars 42–48.

Measures 49 to 52

The closing section is taken from the previous transition, bars 15 to 20.

Measures 53 to 59

The first theme is developed in D minor and A minor, modulating to the dominant of E minor.

Measures 59 to 66

Short rhythmic double notes on a repeated note the accompaniment leads the way back to the fragmented descent of the scale in the dominant of the initial key.

Measures 75 to 87

A return takes thematic material from the second theme area, presenting it in C major before transitioning to the expected transition to the second theme itself.

Second Movement


Although the spirit and tempo are those of the minuet, the structure does not develop in the usual way of the minuet and trio pattern.

Measures 27 to 47

The B section introduces a new theme in the dominant, followed by an extended transition leading back to A.

Measures 68 to 86

The C section is entered with a key change in C major. It shares with >theme A an ascending dotted rhythm.

Measures 108 to 120

The coda is based on the opening rhythmic figure of the A theme. It moves through secondary dominants in C major and A minor in the opening key.