Composed in 1809. Two movements.
Coming five years after the morbidly dramatic Appassionata, the Opus 78 sonata could not present a more striking contrast to its predecessor. Despite its slight two-movement structure, it appears that Beethoven thought of this work as highly as he did the Appassionata, and not without reason.
The first movement of this sonata is remarkably tender and lyrical, featuring one of the most beautiful Beethoven melodies. Its highly cellular nature is remarkable; the first theme, for example, is composed of a motif in quarter notes, a motif in sixteenth notes and another in triplets, but all these motifs come together in a completely natural way so that there is not any material transition real. There is also the fact that Beethoven opens the work with a beautiful cantabile melody in four bars that is never repeated throughout the work and does not fulfill any formal function. Its only guarantee is purely psychological; prepares and contains the entire emotional landscape of the first movement (also Mozart could write introductions like this), and you could almost becomes the slow movement that the piece is missing. In a strange way, you listen to the entire first movement waiting for the first melody to return, and it never does, this gives the overwhelming sweetness of the first movement a slightly melancholic touch. In general, the whole movement is devoid of a sense of conflict, instead it is based on a sense of disintegration and reintegration. The last thing to notice is how the little three-note motif a few bars after starting the piece, the optimism of the first time, unites the movement; both its rhythm and its structural form have a great motivating influence.
The second movement is one of Beethoven's unapologetic comic games. It has a strange structure to begin with, and it doesn't really fit perfectly into the typical rondo or sonata-rondo form. In the notes below, I only indicate where the main ideas are, and you can decide for yourself what formal structure it has. The first phrase is divided into 6 parts, which go forte-piano-forte-piano and so on, and it is exceptionally harmonically misleading (we open with an augmented Italian sixth chord, and just when we begin to have certainty about the F # key, the second phrase goes into B, although it also begins with an ambiguous diminished seventh chord.) The third main idea of this movement consists of the schizophrenic hesitation between major and minor, and at the end of the movement there is another harmonic joke: after a dominant seventh Florida, Beethoven prepares us to wait for the tonic, but no! - once again emphasizes an absurd augmented chord. The figuration of this movement is also surprising; The second main idea consists of a sparse, direct bass line overlaid with trailing sixteenth notes, which can be played in an exaggerated acciacatura fashion to resemble squeaks or chirps. And the episodes of this movement are marked by cadences based on the 16th dragged figuration.
Jerome Bonaparte (1784–1860), Napoleon's brother, was made King of Westphalia by Napoleon. Jerome offered Beethoven the position of Kapellmeister for the kingdom at a salary of six hundred ducats a year. The offer appealed to Beethoven, as some of his benefactors had withdrawn their support due to difficult financial times. He also felt that Viennese musical culture had declined. However, a group of fans put together a slightly better offer; a life annuity of four thousand guilders as long as the composer remains in Vienna. Beethoven accepted this counteroffer. It provided him with the necessary financial security, although inflation lowered the value of the guilder during the following years. One of the contributors to the annuity was the twenty-one-year-old Archduke Rudolf (1788–1831), who became one of Beethoven's closest friends. Now financially better off, Beethoven wrote to his friend Baron Ignaz von Gleichtenstein (1778–1828): “Now you can help me find a wife. …. she must be beautiful, though, because I can't love anything that isn't beautiful...otherwise I'd have to love myself."
This sonata was offered to Breitkopf & Härtel in July 1809, but it was not published until November 1810. The autograph survives. The work is dedicated to Countess Therese Brunsvik. Therese never married, devoting her life to charitable work involving young children. Let us remember that the famous Trifle For Elisa, was originally dedicated to Therese, but the copyist simply changed the title to For Elisa, that night when he was making the copies, a little spent drinking, thinking about his beloved Elisa.
The chord progression introduced in bars 31 and 32 of the first movement is used as the basis for the main theme of the second movement in bars 1 and 2.
The melodic outline of the first theme of the first movement in bars 5 and 6 can be traced in the figuration of bars 12 and 13 of the second movement.
This four-bar introduction does not appear again later in the movement as the introductions of the first movements of the sonatas do not. 8 and no. 17. Observers have speculated that the absence of the third of the fermata chords in measure 4 is intended to create anticipation for its appearance for the next measure, the opening of the exposition.
Three motivic ideas make up the first theme area, each one flowing into the next; a lyrical theme in bars 5 to 11, a series of cadence chords in bars 12 to 16, and figuration of sixteenth notes in the right hand with melodic fragments in the left, the latter reaching a climactic cadence in the dominant in the measures 16 to 28.
Like the first topic area, the second topic area, though brief, incorporates three ideas; triple figures in both hands outlining the dominant triadic harmony in bars 28 to 31, in the right hand sixteenth note figuration alternating with a three-chord progression appearing at the opening of the final movement in bars 31 to 36, and a passage from sixteenth notes in the left hand outlining an unresolved authentic cadence in the dominant in bars 36–38.
The first ending incorporates the opening notes of the first theme into the repeat; the second ending announces its declaration in the minor parallel, a declaration that appears in the development.
The development uses the first theme only but is eighteen bars long.
The opening phrase of the first theme begins in F♯ minor and ends in A major. It is then shortened and the first four notes in G♯ minor.
The upbeat figure of the first theme is repeated as a motivic fragment accompanied by sixteenth notes, passing through D♯ minor, C♯ minor, and B major.
The sixteenth notes become scales that outline the dominant of the opening key and come to rest in its key in bars 55 and 56, preparing the recapitulation.
The recapitulation is regular, presenting all the material heard in the exhibition.
The change extends the series of chord cadences passing through E major, F♯ minor, and B minor, coming to rest in B major at the point that is the transposition of the exposition at bar 75.
The sixteenth note figuration of the second theme area is extended as a pattern accompaniment to the return of the first theme, also being extended, this time in B minor in bars 100 and 101, and finally moving towards the opening key through the dominant The left hand accompaniment rises to the treble register of the keyboard before the ending, the closing tonic chords in the right hand bring the movement to a forte finale.
This movement is full of surprise and good humor. Short phrases are served by contrasting dynamics and articulation, often interchanging these cues in various guises. The statements of the thematic ideas of A and B are in the opening key with the exception of their third occurrence, which is in B major. The two occurrences of C focus on D♯ and F♯, the equivocal nature of the theme between minor and major.
The first theme opens with an augmented sixth key that resolves to the third inversion of the dominant of the opening key. The second phrase resolves to the dominant, C# major. The next phrase sits on top of the subdominant, B major, and the opening tone finally reaches the end of the theme at bar 12.
The dragged figure of two sticky notes serves as the second idea. Somewhat reminiscent of writing on strings, it has a longer line accompaniment. At measure 22 the hands alternate, with the figure of two notes delineating the dominant of the starting tone.
The C theme extends the two-note figure to an ascending major-key arpeggio, answered by a phrase in the parallel minor to jocular effect.
The coda arises directly from an extension of theme A. It builds on the theme's second phrase, a climactic reiteration of a dotted rhythmic figure in bars 168–172 followed by two bars of chords and an upward dominant arpeggio, each marked o ending in a fermata in measures 175 to 177). An ascending return of the two-note figure, with the minor-major doubling, brings the movement to an energetic close at bars 178 to 183.
Sonata in two movements.