Composed in 1820. Three movements.
Beethoven’s 30th Sonata is to the Hammerklavier what a koan is to a novel: ultra-compressed, terse, deeply enigmatic (so enigmatic, in fact, that we can’t even decide if it’s got 2 or 3 movements). It marks a return to intimate structures after the vastness of the Hammerklavier, but despite its beauty and warmth it’s as deeply radical as anything which Beethoven wrote.
In terms of large-scale structure, Opus 109 does a couple of very interesting things. There is the fact that the first movement is extremely short, built more around contrast (the old “classical” ideal) and contains little thematic development (the new “romantic” ideal that Beethoven had done so much to build). Perhaps because of this, the second movement is also in sonata form (a scherzo without the trio is also a good read), another very unusual step. Add to this the fact that for the first time in Beethoven's sonata output the focus is now on the last movement (instead of the first, which is the norm), which is considerably longer than both, the first and the second together. This pattern, of having a slow and wide Final Movement that ends the piece with a kind of devotional intensity, is repeated in the two sonatas that follow Opus 109.
The relationship between the first and the second movement is also quite interesting; They function as a combined counterweight for the third movement. They are bound together (not by an indication of attaca, which is unusual) by the thinnest tissue: the pedal grip. The two main (opening) themes of both movements are also very similar; the bottoms of both are built around a simple descending scale.
The sonata as a whole is also unified by the motivic interval of a third. The first theme of the first movement has a main melody (highlighted as quarter notes) that basically consists of even thirds (G # -B, F # -A, EG #), just like the first theme of the second (the right hand basically goes GE, BG, EG). The theme of the third movement opens with a third, which is repeated throughout the variations. In Var.2, the notes 2 and 3 in the right hand are separated by a third, and the pattern repeats (F # -D #, then G # -E, F # -D #, F # -A #) . In the Var. 3, the pattern is obvious: both the right and the left move outward in the third. In Var.4, the rhythmically important notes are also separated by thirds (for the most part: B-G # -E in the opening phrase, for example). In Var.5, the theme of the fugue closely resembles the main opening melody of the sonata, and so on.
The last thing to note: the last movement, a theme and variations (unusual ending to a sonata), contains much of Beethoven's most beautiful writing. In fact, the 3 most lyrically intense, static, generous 1-minute music segments that Beethoven has ever written are probably found in the last movements of his last three sonatas (the closing chorale of the 31 and the brief moment in the 32 when the theme and variation form is dropped).
There is almost no evidence of Beethoven's daily life from September 1821 to May 1822: no sketchbooks, only letters to editors, and few secondary books. accounts. It has been speculated that this gap was due to a number of illnesses that plagued the composer, possibly rheumatic fever followed by jaundice.
The first movement of this work is believed to have been written as a piece, commissioned by Friedrich Starke (1774–1835) to be used in a collection of small pieces. Starke was a composer and trumpeter who published a piano method around 1820. Beethoven's unpaid secretary at the time was Franz Oliva (1786-1848), who suggested that the piece be used as the first movement of one of the sonatas. promised to the Berlin publisher Adolf Martin Schlesinger (1769–1838), who, in fact, published the sonata in November 1821. The work is dedicated to Maximiliane Brentano (1802–1861), the eldest daughter of a Frankfurt merchant, Franz Brentano . Many scholars believe that the evidence supports the idea that Maximiliane's mother, Antonie (1780-1869), was the subject of the love letter found among the composer's belongings after her death. The letter was written on July 6, 1812, to the Immortal Beloved, but was probably never mailed. The autograph of this sonata is in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Along with the sonata no. 31, this work is the most performed of the last five sonatas. It represents the depth of late Beethoven in three contrasting movements, an appealing combination for both performers and audiences. The lyrical and improvisational character of the first movement contrasts sharply with the driving energy of the second. The final movement acts as a slow movement and the focal point of the work, reaching momentous heights through its use of extended trills.
The first, second, and third movements all open with the interval of a rising or falling third.
This short opening theme is based on a rhythmic sound of two notes in a figure in sixteenth notes that alternates between the right and left hand. The A♯ in bar 5 moves the theme into a B major, the expected dominant.
A surprising diminished seventh chord opens the expressive Adagio, functioning as the VII7 in C♯ minor, which in turn acts as a supertonic in B major. Improvisational but metered arpeggios alternate with expressive melodic snippets ending on an ascending B major scale.
The opening theme is indicated in the left hand.
A new melodic line in the upper voice is served by a long tie and the indication semper legato, the message repeated in bar 36 as a long tie ends Sforzando followed by piano on the second beats of measures 33 to 41 and thus create syncopation. At bar 42 a crescendo mark paves the way for the recapitulation.
The first theme is reaffirmed with a wide and spaced texture. Falling octaves in the left hand create a more sustained voicing through notation and the addition of slurs.
The Adagio espressivo section works in the home key of E major, as it did in the exposition with the exception of bars 61 and 62, where a key signature change admits climactic arpeggios in C cadence. older, introducing a striking color. Beethoven's penchant for placing C major as a color in the middle of a key of E major can also be seen in the change of course in the first movement of the sonata no. 9, and the introduction of the C section in the rondo movement of sonata no. 27.
The coda features snippets of the opening theme interrupted by a short choral phrase. The flat stands out in figurations in measures 87 to 89 and in measure 91. Two expressive notes, the ligatures assist the melodic line from measure 89.
The opening theme is impulsive and rhythmic. The modulation to the dominant minor occurs in bars 31 to 33, just after the introduction of a new melodic motif marked a little espressivo. The rhythm of driving at all times generates strong unity throughout the exhibition.
A lyrical phrase in the two upper voices develops into imitative entries over a tremolo bass in B. At bar 83 an unexpected change to C major marks the beginning of a chorale that fragments and reaffirms the phrase. The section ends with a cadence bar in the key of B minor, rather than one leading back to the tonic.
The reaffirmation of the exhibition material is carried out in the normal way. A brief change of course in bars 112 to 119 leads to the second idea of the opening pitch which is slightly extended in bars 124 to 131. An extended Cadence generates the chords that form a short coda.
The variation retains the repeat signs for its two sections and develops with a more active melodic line over a double bass in the left hand. It marks the beginning of using shorter note values for each variation to increase flow, sometimes called a rhythmic crescendo.
This is a so-called double variation in that the repeat of each section is written and features different material. The first eight measures count a pattern of sixteenth notes divided between the right hand and the left. Its repetition at bar 41 features a more lyrical line, its opening comes in third place and is reminiscent of the theme. The line develops in an imitative pattern between two voices. At bar 49 the second half of the theme introduces the sixteenth note pattern again, and its repetition introduces the lyrical material.
Marked Allegro vivace, this variation features an unbroken passage of sixteenth notes, first in the right hand and then in the left. This variation marks the end of the rhythmic crescendo that began in the first variation.
Marked Etwas langsamer, als das Thema (Somewhat slower than the theme), this variation features 9/8 time, its two parts marked to repeat with the first and second endings for each. The texture is freely imitative in four voice levels. Its second half climaxes at bar 109, the only point in the movement where a fortíssimo is indicated.
Allegro, ma non troppo, with a brief alla. This movement is often called a fugue or fugetta due to its imitative, contrapuntal texture.
Prime marked tempo of the theme with a return to 3/4 time. This variation reintroduces the mood of the theme. The pedal point becomes a slow trill written at em bar 158 that increases in speed through the use of smaller note values. The repetitions are written. At the beginning of the second part of the theme, the B pedal point becomes a left-hand long trill in bars 168–176. The written repetition of this section places the trill in the right hand with eighth notes outlining the melodic contour of the theme interspersed with octave rests in bars 177 to 187. The trills create a transcendental atmosphere. The dominant harmony is extended three measures to prepare for the reaffirmation of the theme in measures.
The theme is expressed in its original form with some details changed without repetition.