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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sonata quasi una Fantasia "Moonlight Sonata" Opus 27 No 2

Beethoven I love this piano sonata.  It moves me.  I just want to hear it and feel it - in quiet.  It is so romantic.  Well, today while at the Music & Arts store with my daughter, Sarah, where I bought her the advanced solo music of "Carol of the Bells" so that she can prepare for the talent show at her high school, I picked up the one piece that I never did learn before and wanted to - the Sonata quasi una Fantasia "Moonlight Sonata" Opus 27 No 2 by Beethoven.  It is so beautiful.  All 3 movements - 23 pages masterfully reprinted from Beethoven's original work.  The Sonata was originally written and dedicated to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, a young woman with whom Beethoven fell madly in love.  You see, Beethoven was quite the romantic, and his poetry and letters of love were as beautiful as his music.

What you may not know is that Beethoven's contributions to piano literature include 32 piano sonatas, 5 concertos, and too many other piano compositions to mention.  His Opus 27 consists of 2 piano sonatas, each of which are entitled Sonata quasi una Fantasia (Sonata in the style of a fantasy).  The first of these is in E-flat Major.  The second, is in C-sharp Minor and is better known as the Moonlight Sonata.  And, you may find this interesting, but that title was never known to Beethoven in his lifetime.

The poet/critic, Ludwig Rellstab, who was a personal acquaintance of Beethoven, gave his sonata this most popular title in 1832, four years after Beethoven's death.  Rellstab had written an article about Beethoven saying that the opening movement of this sonata reminded him of "moonlight rippling on the waves of Lake Lucerne," and while many who love Beethoven have objected to this sentimental title, it certainly has had no detrimental effect on the popularity of this magnificent and romantic work, which is without question among the most beloved and frequently performed compositions by Beethoven or any other great composer.

Giulietta Beethoven composed this Sonata in Vienna in 1801, and it was first published in 1802 by Gio. Cappi of Vienna.  Beethoven dedicated the piece to his love, the young Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, who, at the time, was one of Beethoven's piano students.  He was 31 y/o and she was 17 or 18 y/o.  It is believed that Beethoven proposed marriage to the Countess, but it is also believed that she was not able to accept his proposal.  Her father, who was a high-ranking Councilor to the Austrian Court, opposed her marriage to a man "without rank, fortune, or permanent employment."  He never stopped loving her.  A portrait of Giulietta was found in Beethoven's personal desk after his death.

What a beautiful and romantic poet Beethoven was ...

My Angel, My All, My Very Self,

Just a few words to-day, and only in pencil . . . Can our love endure otherwise than through sacrifices, through restraint in longing.  Canst thou help not being wholly mine, can I, not being wholly thine.  Oh! gaze at nature in all its beauty, and calmly accept the inevitable - love demands everything, and rightly so.  Thus is it for me with thee, for thee with me, only thou so easily forgettest, that I must live for myself and for thee - were we wholly united thou wouldst feel this painful fact as little as I should . . .

Now for a quick change from without to within:  we shall probably soon see each other, besides, to-day I cannot tell thee what has been passing through my mind during the past few days concerning my life - were our hearts closely united, I should not do things of this kind.  My heart is full of the many things I have to say to thee - ah! - there are moments in which I feel that speech is powerless - cheer up - remain my true, my only treasure, my all !!! as I to thee.  The gods must send the rest, what for us must be and ought to be.

Thy faithful,


I leave you today with this most beautiful piece, performed by someone other than myself - at the moment anyway.  Hopefully, in the next several months, I will have mastered the 23 pages of the Sonata quasi una Fantasia, and I will have my Big Bear videotape me playing this for you - and hopefully, God willing, error free.


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