Beethoven Piano Sonata 9

Opus 14, No. 1


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Beethoven Piano Sonata 9 First edition

Beethoven Piano Sonata 9 –First Edition

Vienna, 1799.

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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 9 –Interesting Facts

The 9th Sonata isn’t well known, probably due to a combination of its relatively diminutive proportions and slight air of oddness, but it definitely deserves to be.


Beethoven Piano Sonata 9 –Novelties

The surprising first movement is an excellent example of how a good development section, as we can also see in the sixth sonata, and to a lesser extent the fifth and seventh. You don't really need to develop material to be effective, here the relevant sense of tension is generated by the inclusion of a completely new theme in the development, the first truly lyrical moment in the sonata, indicated by Beethoven himself in the manuscript "without developing the theme". The movement is also a classic example of Beethoven's motivic style; the first thematic group consists of ascending fourths on a continuous E, scales and then arpeggios, while the second thematic group begins with descending and ascending chromatic scales. The amount of drama Beethoven draws from such humble material, often with the help of a highly developed quartet-like counterpoint, is quite extraordinary.

The second movement is notable for some of the rather late Renaissance harmonies that Beethoven uses, and the last movement is quite amusing: the main theme involves the rising right hand getting hopelessly stuck on an A note, while the left hand continues to descend. The keyboard, happily ignoring any dissonance it generates against the previous note. It is also a good example of Beethoven's ability to continually develop the theme of a rondo with each repetition. There is also an intermediate passage with concert characteristics.