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Ludwig van Beethoven   opus 31:3

Piano Sonata No. 18 in Eb major "The hunt"

Piano Sonata in E flat major. 1802. Time: 22'00.

La Chasse

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The Piano Sonata No. 18 in E-flat major, Op. 31, No. 3, is a sonata for solo piano by Ludwig van Beethoven, the third and last of his Op. 31 piano sonatas. The work dates from 1802. A playful jocularity is maintained throughout the piece, earning it the occasional nickname of The Hunt, although like many of Beethoven's early works, the 'jocular' style can be heard as a facade, concealing profound ideas and depths of emotion.

Roger Kamien has performed a Schenkerian analysis of facets of chords of the sonata.[1]

The sonata consists of four movements:

  1. Allegro: Beethoven's progressive harmonic language is apparent from the very first chord of the piece - ii 6/5 (F minor 7 in 1st inversion), the stability of a tonic chord in root position delayed until bar 7. The expressive harmonic colour, coupled with the changes of tempi in the introduction (1-18), creates an evocative opening, reminiscent of the improvisatory style of C. P. E. Bach's piano sonatas. This opening cell is repeated extensively throughout the movement - at the start of the development (89), in the recapitulation (137), and also during the coda (transposed into the subdominant (220), and then at its original pitch (237)). The codetta (33-45) explores this opening chord in a minor variation (with a C flat, implying ii7 of Eb minor), even appearing in bar 36 in the exact spacing (albeit with different spelling) of the 'Tristan chord', written by Richard Wagner some 55 years later.
  2. Scherzo. Allegretto vivace: This scherzo is different from regular scherzos, as it is written in 2/4 time as opposed to 3/4, and because it is in sonata form. However, its still contains many characteristics of a scherzo, including unexpected pauses and a playful nature. The theme is in the right hand while the left-hand contains staccato accompaniment. This isn't the first time Beethoven wrote a scherzo that isn't in ternary form; the scherzo in the Op. 14, No. 2 sonata has a scherzo as its third movement, which is in rondo form.
  3. Menuetto. Moderato e grazioso: It is surprisingly the most serious of the movements, with a sweet and tender nature presented in the piece, with both the minuet and the trio presented in E flat major.
  4. Presto con fuoco: A very vigorous and rolling piece, suspended by continuous, rollicking eighth notes in the bass.

The form of the sonata is unusual because it does not have a slow movement, which is instead replaced with a scherzo and followed by a minuet, before launching into the spirited finale.


  • Camille Saint-Saëns used the Trio section of the Menuetto as the theme for his 1874 Variations sur un thème de Beethoven, Op. 35, for two pianos.


External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Piano_Sonata_No._18_(Beethoven)". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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