Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, commonly known as Sonata Pathétique

 

During the Offering at Pender UMC’s Traditional Service on January 9, 2022, we were treated to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, commonly known as Sonata Pathétique played by Liz Eunji Sellers .

 

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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. It has remained one of his most celebrated compositions.Beethoven dedicated the work to his friend Prince Karl von Lichnowsky. 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.

 

 

Liz played the second movement – Adagio cantabile (above)

This movement exemplifies the expressive Adagio style of many slow movements in the classical period. The famous cantabile melody is played three times, always in A♭ major, separated by two modulating episodes; the movement is thus a simple rondo rather than the sonata form more common for movements of this seriousness. The first episode is set in F minor (the relative minor of A♭ major), further modulating to E♭ major before returning to the main theme. The second episode begins in A♭ 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.

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