July 2011

July 2011

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Discovery of the Leit Motiv

Sonata no. 7 Opus 10 no. 3

This Sonata is written in 1797, the year Beethoven published his revised version of his 2nd Piano Concerto - already performed once before his 1st in 1895 - and has 2 sharps for D major.

The key for exuberant joy!

Like the other two sonatas in Opus 10 Beethoven still is giving a tribute to Joseph Haydn and in some ways setting an antithesis to the 3 Sonatas in Opus 2. 

They were dedicated to Haydn. 
They were laying the foundation for the ideal! 
Far above what Joseph Haydn did. 

Hayden Browne
Opus 10 is dedicated to a piano student, countess van Browne, but are in itself a tribute to the music of Joseph Haydn. 

In the 3 Opus 10 sonatas Beethoven tries to communicate with a larger audience. Beethoven tries to appeal. Successfully for sure! Like the Opus 2 sonatas they are quite different in character from each other. 

Opus 10 no.1 Dramatic
Opus 10 no.2 Comical
Opus 10 no.3 Enigmatic

But he will compromise and for instance not write all 4 movements of a sonata. But this last Opus 10 sonata does have 4 movements and is its longest.

Always experimenting this sonata has a unison opening. That is all the voices play the same theme. The response is polyphonic. Full of classical contrasts staccato/legato. The unison section raising to the dominant the legato section falling back to the tonic key. 

Presto, but be consoled, it is in 2/4!

The reworking of the opening is brilliant! 

The first four notes with an upbeat descending from Tonic to Dominant is one of the leit-motivs of this sonata. It may very well be that this is the sonata, where Beethoven became aware of the use of leit-motivs and will more and more build his sonatas around such techniques.

Interesting is also the sudden start of the 2nd theme in b-minor in bar 12, whereas the start of the right hand melody here might very well still be perceived in D-major. Too soon for the 2nd theme to start, but then also the 2nd theme is really an idea or leit-motiv, this time ascending and therefore just the reverse of the first four notes. 

In traditional sonata form after the presentation of the 2 themes we have a coda and that's it! But here, we can see that indeed Beethoven is doing something different. After bar 42, when the presentation of the second theme is finished the play with the leit-motiv really starts going! For that reason bar 42 ends in the tonic again. This is SOO not plain sonata-form! 

The rest of the 'exhibition' then is playing with this leit-motiv as if it were the development section! 

That's revolutionary Beethoven!

The second theme is slow and sad! Very sad. And that's amazing too, because the whole mood of this sonata is so joyful. There are several of these 'Largo e mesto' movements in 6/8 in his later sonatas. 

The minuet and trio is unusual too. The first section - reminding of the opening of this sonata - is traditional enough, but the second section is fugal. The trio - supposed to go to minor - is in major too and is a joyful folks tune! Beethoven rarely repeats himself, but is not entirely above the pressure of music publishers. He will use the same tune in sonata opus 14 no. 2!

Remains the last movement. True: a real rondo! But again Beethoven makes it a vehicle for his leit-motiv and quotes from the first three movements extensively. 

Hence in sonata no. 7 opus 10 no 3 Beethoven discovers the leit-motiv as means of composition, which will supersede that of sonata-form. Not Schumann or Liszt have discovered that!

Beethoven did.

Lecture of Andreas Schiff on Opus 10 no. 3

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