Beethoven piano sonata no. 27, opus 90




Beethoven piano sonata no. 27, opus 90


It is rare that this sonata is in two movements instead of four.

For some reason, it does not seem to be performed that often.

I grew to love it from listening to my mother play the second movement when I was very young.


— Roger W. Smith

     January 2017




from Wikipedia

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90 was written in the summer of 1814 – Beethoven’s late Middle period – and was dedicated to Prince Moritz von Lichnowsky, a friend and benefactor who was also the dedicatee of the famous Eroica Variations.

Beethoven’s autograph survives and is dated August 16, 1814. The sonata was published almost a year later.

Beethoven’s letter to Prince Moritz von Lichnowsky, sent in September 1814, explains Beethoven’s dedication:

I had a delightful walk yesterday with a friend in the Brühl, and in the course of our friendly chat you were particularly mentioned, and lo! and behold! on my return I found your kind letter. I see you are resolved to continue to load me with benefits. As I am unwilling you should suppose that a step I have already taken is prompted by your recent favors, or by any motive of the sort, I must tell you that a sonata of mine is about to appear, dedicated to you. I wished to give you a surprise, as this dedication has been long designed for you, but your letter of yesterday induces me to name the fact. I required no new motive thus publicly to testify my sense of your friendship and kindness.

Beethoven’s friend and biographer Anton Schindler reported that the two movements of the sonata were to be titled Kampf zwischen Kopf und Herz (“A Contest Between Head and Heart”) and Conversation mit der Geliebten (“Conversation with the Beloved”), respectively, and that the sonata as a whole referred to Prince Moritz’ romance with a woman he was thinking of marrying.

Schindler’s explanation first appeared in his 1842 book Beethoven in Paris and has been repeated in several other books. Later studies showed that the story was almost certainly invented by Schindler, at least in part, and that he went as far as to forge an entry in one of Beethoven’s conversation books to validate the anecdote.

Although most of Beethoven’s piano sonatas are cast in three or four movements, this piece consists of just two movements. Both are provided with performance instructions in German:

first movement: Mit Lebhaftigkeit und durchaus mit Empfindung und Ausdruck (With liveliness and with feeling and expression throughout)

second movement: Nicht zu geschwind und sehr singbar vorgetragen (Not too swiftly and conveyed in a singing manner)





The second movement is supposed to be played “Nicht zu geschwind und sehr singbar vorgetragen” (Not too swiftly and conveyed in a singing manner).

Nevertheless, some– indeed, many — pianists, including renowned ones, play the second movement TOO FAST and in a restrained, bloodless manner, not a singing manner.

I would almost prefer to hear it played by an amateur who has a sensitivity to the piece.


— Roger W. Smith, email to a friend, January 1, 2017

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