Piano_Sonata_No._1_(Beethoven)

Piano Sonata No. 1 (Beethoven)

Beethoven's Piano Sonata in F minor, op. 2, no. 1, was written in 1795 and dedicated to Joseph Haydn.

A typical performance lasts about 19 minutes.

Structural Analysis

The sonata is in four movements:

  1. Allegro in F minor
  2. Adagio in F major
  3. Menuetto - Allegro in F minor
  4. Prestissimo in F minor

The first movement, in 2/2 time, is in Sonata form (typical for the first movement of a Sonata). The first theme is driven by a Mannheim Rocket, very similar to the opening of the first movement of Mozart's Symphony No. 25. The second theme, in A-flat major, is accompanied by eighth-note octaves in the bass (usually with dominant harmony). There are two codettas; the first consists of a series of energetic descending scales in A-flat major, and the second is a lyrical passage marked con espressione. In this second codetta and in the second theme Beethoven makes interesting use of mode mixture as the right hand parts borrows from the parallel minor. The development opens with the initial theme, but is mostly dedicated to the second theme and its eighth-note accompaniment. The retransition to the main theme uses its sixteenth-note triplet. The recapitulation repeats the material from the exposition without much change, except that it stays in F minor throughout. There is a short coda. A tense, agitated feel is ubiquitous throughout the movement. If played at speed, where one quarter note equals 126 to 138 macrobeats per minute, this movement can be challenging to perfect.

The second movement opens with a lyrical theme in 3/4 time in F major. This is followed by an agitated transitional passage in D minor, followed by a passage full of thirty-second notes in C major. This leads back to a more embellished form of the F major theme, which is followed by an F major variation of the C major section.

The third movement, a minuet in F minor, is conventional in form. It contains two repeated sections, followed by a trio in F major in two repeated sections, after which the first minuet returns.

The fourth movement, like the first, is in F minor, 2/2 time, and sonata form. The exposition is accompanied by ceaseless eighth-note triplets. The first theme is based on three staccato quarter note chords. A transitional passage leads to a more lyrical but still agitated theme in C minor. The chords of the first theme return to close the exposition. Where the development would be expected to start, there is a completely new theme in A flat, with the first respite from the eighth-note triplets. This is followed by an extended retransition based on the first theme. The recapitulation presents the first and second themes in F minor. There is no coda, only a descending arpeggio -- in eighth-note triplets, of course -- to conclude the piece.

External links

  • For a public domain recording of this sonata visit Musopen

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