Beethoven was widely known as a classical period composer, but he also regarded as a great adventure and a predecessor to Romantic period. His compositional career is usually divided into Early, Middle, and Late periods and the late period was from about 181 5 till his death, and also undoubtedly recognized as a transition period from Classical period to Romantic period. This is a magic period that Beethoven created a great transition, like what he did in his composition for the next generation.
I will take his middle-period piano sonata Op. 81a as an example to talk about performance practice in this piece, such as form, harmony, articulation, ornamentation, and tempo. I will explore what inventions he created, how he changed and transited toa new period. II. The Background of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 81a in E-flat Major Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 81a in E-flat Major, known as the Les Adieux sonata, was written during the years 1809 and 1810. This sonata has three movements””Das Lebewohl,” “Abwesenheit,” and “Das
Wiedersehen” (“The Farewell,” “Absence,” and “The Reunion,” respectively). The emotions represented by this sonata are not those of a love-story or a hero-worship story. The music is a monument to the friendship, deep as any friendship formed in schooldays and manly as Beethoven’s ripest art. This is the first and only Sonata by Beethoven which has a definite programme to indicate its contents. It was dedicated to Archduke Rudolph, the youngest son of Emperor Leopoldll. Archduke Rudolf was also a musician who might have made a reputation as such if he had been cast adrift round the world.
At the age of sixteen he became a pupil of Beethoven; and it is impossible not to recognize a special quality in the numerous important works that Beethoven dedicated to him”the present Sonata, the Eb Concerto, the last Violin Sonata, Op. 96, the last Trio, Op. 97, the Seventh Symphony, and the Missa Solemnis in D major. These were not even half of the list of works dedicated to the Archduke Rudolf; and they have in common a magnificence of scale, a gorgeous wealth of invention, a beauty at once majestic and energetic that may indeed be found herever Beethoven has much to say, but here more obviously than in other works.
Beethoven once referred to the work as a “characteristic” sonata, thereby directly suggesting that the work is in the sense that it conveys certain characteristic emotions or moods. This sonata’s character is more fruitfully understood in relation to the military and political events of the time. The period of its composition witnessed a significant blossoming of Austrian nationalism as well as a landmark war of Napoleon’s. Understanding the historical context of these subtitles not only sheds ight on the program of the sonata, but in turn helps highlight certain musical issues explored in the work as well.
Furthermore, considering this sonata is the third great sonata of the middle period and a bridge between middle and later period, it will be clearly demonstrated what had been changed and what were no longer stick to the rules of Classical period. Ill. The Influence of Fortepianos in Beethoven’s Life i. The history of his pianos After the invention of fortepiano, the early piano had gained widespread use and was apidly replaced botn the harpsichord and the clavichord.
However, the tortepiano were still quite different in construction, touch, pedal, and tone from modern piano today. 11. The keyboard compass around the 1790s was generally five octaves, such as the fortepiano by Walter, was the pianos played by Mozart, by Clementi until the 1790s, by Haydn until his London visits, and by Beethoven until 1803. 11. In 1802 Beethoven requested a piano from Walter providing it was Mahogany and had a proper una corda stop, which is a device that only the English manufactures could rovide at that time.
Walter was unable to comply for technical reasons. 8. However, Beethoven kept writing notes out on his Walter for the Concert Op. 37 with its top notes to c4. This composition was not published until his Erard piano arrived in 1804. Erard was with a treble that reached to c4 and with pedals rather than knee levers. When he started to compose this sonata, he required a piano with six full octaves- FF to f4. Unfortunately, there were no such a piano builders could make it happen at that time.
Beethoven complained to Stretcher that his French piano was “quite useless”. 11. Until 1818, Beethoven received a gift of a Broadwood piano with its six- octave compass of CC to c4. In 1826, after virtually all his composing for piano was done, Beethoven received a Graf piano with the range of CC to f4 that encompassed his entire compositions. 11. ii. Broadwood Since this sonata was composed on Broadwood, I will compare this piano to modern piano on different touch, tone color, pedaling.