Beethoven Piano Sonatas
Beethoven Portraits

Ludwig van Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas rank alongside his symphonies and string quartets as his most extraordinary achievements. Not only did he compose some of the most beloved piano music ever written—the “Moonlight,” the “Appassionata,” the “Pathétique” sonatas, to name just a few—but he greatly expanded the scale and scope of the genre, creating works of beauty and intensity that have arguably never been surpassed.

In this introduction to Beethoven’s piano sonatas, trace the progression from the early Classical to the revolutionary late sonatas with texts and musical examples. Also listen to some of today’s greatest pianists discuss Beethoven’s sonatas.


The Early Sonatas ›

The early sonatas show Beethoven absorbing and expanding the tradition of his Classical predecessors, particularly Mozart and Haydn.


The Middle Sonatas ›

In the middle sonatas, Beethoven starts to break with the past, creating works with a greater harmonic and expressive freedom. They also display Beethoven’s remarkable gift for countless transformations of small musical ideas.


The Late Sonatas ›

The late sonatas redefine the classical concept of a sonata. As Beethoven experimented with different numbers and types of movements, he forged an unprecedented compositional style that incorporated everything from strict counterpoint to proto-romantic harmonies.

Related Events

Mitsuko Uchida
Thurs, Apr 30, 2009 at 8 PM
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage

Artists Speak
Emanuel Ax

Emanuel Ax

on Op. 2, No. 2

Leif Ove Andsnes

Leif Ove Andsnes

on Op. 27, No 1, “Quasi una fantasia”

Mitsuko Uchida

Mitsuko Uchida

on the late sonatas

Thomas Adès

Thomas Adès

on Op. 101

Jeremy Denk

Jeremy Denk

on Op. 106, “Hammerklavier”

András Schiff

András Schiff

on Op. 106, “Hammerklavier”

Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Pierre-Laurent Aimard

on Op. 110