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Ludwig van Beethoven   opus 13

Piano Sonata No. 8 "Pathétique"

Piano Sonata in C minor. 1798. Time: 19'00.
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Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, commonly known as Sonata Pathétique, was written in 1798 when the composer was 27 years old, and was published in 1799. Beethoven dedicated the work to his friend Prince Karl von Lichnowsky.[1] Although commonly thought to be one of the few works to be named by the composer himself, it was actually named Grande sonate pathétique (to Beethoven's liking) by the publisher, who was impressed by the sonata's tragic sonorities.[2]

Prominent musicologists debate whether or not the Pathétique may have been inspired by Mozart's piano sonata K. 457, since both compositions are in C minor and have three very similar movements. The second movement, "Adagio cantabile", especially, makes use of a theme remarkably similar to that of the spacious second movement of Mozart's sonata.[3] However, Beethoven's sonata uses a unique motif line throughout, a major difference from Haydn or Mozart’s creation.[1]



In its entirety, encompassing all three movements, the work takes approximately 19 minutes to perform.

The sonata has three movements:

  1. Grave (Slowly, with solemnity) – Allegro di molto e con brio (Quickly, with much vigour)
  2. Adagio cantabile (Slowly, in a singing style)
  3. Rondo: Allegro (Quickly)

Grave – Allegro di molto e con brio

The first movement is in sonata form. It begins with a slow introductory theme, marked Grave. The allegro section is in 2/2 time (alla breve) in the home key of C minor, modulating, like most minor-key sonatas of this period, to the mediant, E-flat. However, Beethoven makes use of unorthodox mode-mixture, as he presents the second subject in E-flat minor rather than its customary parallel major. Beethoven extends Haydn's compositional practice by returning to the introductory section twice—at the beginning of the development section as well as in the coda. Some performers of the sonata include the introduction in the exposition repeat, others return to the beginning of the allegro section.

About this sound First movement
MIDI rendition, 6:57 minutes, 30 KB
Introduction sonate pathétique.jpg
Grave introduction: first four bars

Adagio cantabile

The Adagio movement opens with a famous cantabile melody. This theme is played three times, always in A-flat major, separated by two modulating episodes. The first episode is set in F minor (relative to A-flat major), further modulating to E-flat major before returning to the main theme. The second episode begins in A-flat minor and modulates to E major. With the final return of the main theme, the accompaniment becomes richer and takes on the triplet rhythm of the second episode. There is a brief coda.

About this sound Second movement
MIDI rendition, 5:03 minutes, 12 KB
Adagio sonate pathétique.jpg
The famous Adagio cantabile: first eight bars

Rondo: Allegro

The sonata closes with a 2/2 movement in C minor. The main theme closely resembles the second theme of the Allegro of the first movement: its melodic pattern is identical for its first four notes, and its rhythmic pattern for the first eight. There is also a modified representation of the melody from the second movement, thus connecting all three movements together. The movement's sonata rondo form includes a coda. The three rondo episodes are in E-flat major, A-flat major, and C major. The movement can be thought as related to Beethoven Concerto No. 3 in C minor Op.37. The common use of sforzando creates a forceful effect.

About this sound Third movement
MIDI rendition, 4:25 minutes, 17 KB
Pathétique-3 Incipit.png
Rondo: Allegro

In popular culture

The Sonata Pathétique, one of Beethoven's most well-known works, is perhaps the earliest of Beethoven's compositions to achieve widespread and enduring popularity.[1] It is widely represented on the concert programs and recordings of professional pianists.[1] As one of the most famous Beethoven pieces, it has been incorporated into several works of popular culture: e.g. it is used as the theme of the film The Man Who Wasn't There and Billy Joel's "This Night" from his album An Innocent Man and a Fantasia-like animated sequence of it is included in A Boy Named Charlie Brown. In addition, part of the first movement of the work has been used in the theme of popular children's video game, "Carmen Sandiego" The rock band Kiss incorporated it into "Great Expectations" from their album Destroyer. The work was sampled by the hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan in their song "Impossible" from the album Wu-Tang Forever. The main motif from the first movement was used in several live performances by Jethro Tull of their song "With You There to Help Me", e.g. in 1970 at Carnegie Hall and in their performance at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970, recorded on the album Nothing Is Easy: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970. In the movie Star Trek: Insurrection, a two second clip from the beginning of the first movement is played when Captain Jean-Luc Picard asks the computer to play some music in his quarters, of which he responds: "No, no! Play something Latin."

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Beethoven Pathetique Sonata Op. 13 All About Beethoven. Retrieved May 1, 2008.
  2. ^ Burkhart, Charles: Anthology for Musical Analysis, page 233. Schirmer 2004.
  3. ^ Marks, F. Helena. The Sonata: Its Form and Meaning as Exemplified in the Piano Sonatas by Mozart. W. Reeves, London, 1921.

External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Piano_Sonata_No._8_(Beethoven)". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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